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Wall St is growing wary of Southern Co.’s promises to carry out Vogtle nuclear project economically

Wall Street braces for further delays, cost overruns at Vogtle nuke project, S and P Global, Darren Sweeney, 15 Jan 21,

Wall Street is growing wary of Southern Co.’s promise to meet the regulatory approved in-service dates for the new Alvin W. Vogtle nuclear reactors in Georgia.

Southern subsidiary Georgia Power Co. has announced plans to “adjust key milestones” on the construction of Unit 3 at the nuclear plant expansion in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“Since October, the site has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, consistent with the broader regional and national rise in cases,” Georgia Power said in a Jan. 11 news release. “This increase, combined with other productivity challenges, continues to impact construction production and the pace of testing activity completion.”…….

Mizuho Securities USA LLC said it anticipates a seven-month delay from the Georgia Public Service Commission’s approved in-service dates for the units and a “$2.0 billion total project cost overrun.”

“While the company continues to target a regulatory in-service date of November 2021 for Unit 3, they are running short of time in the calendar,” Mizuho analyst Paul Fremont wrote in a Jan. 13 research report. “For prior nuclear projects, it has taken roughly one year between the start of hot functional testing … to commercial operation of the plant. Based on these standards, Georgia Power’s previous schedule of beginning [hot functional testing] in January 2021 and commercial operation in November 2021 already looked aggressive.”

Prior to Georgia Power’s update, Scotia Capital (USA) Inc. analyst Andrew Weisel noted that the Vogtle project “brings one-of-a-kind execution risks” for Southern. …..

“The company does not mention construction cost revisions in its press release, but we believe that the inability to meet production goals will likely result in an increase in the cost estimate to complete the project,” Fremont wrote.

The analyst said he anticipates Southern will announce additional construction costs and update the schedule during a February earnings call.

The independent Vogtle Monitoring Group said in a June 2020 filing with the Georgia PSC that Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear were “highly unlikely” to meet the regulatory approved in-service dates for Vogtle units 3 and 4…………..


January 16, 2021 - Posted by | business and costs, USA

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