Third nuclear reactor could face delay

Georgia Power said the opening of a third nuclear reactor at the 2,236 MWe Plant Vogtle could be delayed five months if federal regulators do not approve a combined construction and operating license by the end of 2011.

News reports said that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not yet granted the license for the reactor that is scheduled for completion in April 2016. The start date could be pushed back to September if there is a delay in getting the license, reports said. Georgia Power officials made the announcement during a November 21 hearing with the Georgia Public Service Commission.

If the license is granted before the end of the year, Georgia Power officials will reportedly take 60 days to determine if the company can eliminate any potential delays. They will also have to determine how ratepayers would be affected by a faster schedule.

Georgia Power, a unit of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), also reportedly said during the hearing that it is predicting a $42 million increase in construction and capital costs. Also during the hearing with the Georgia Public Service Commission, the company says it's projecting a $42 million dollar increase in projected construction andcapital costs for more oversight on the project. The company does not expect to exceed a state-approved budget of $6.1 billion, news reports said.

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