Southern Co. admits it will exceed original budget for Vogtle nuclear project

The Atlanta-based utility Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) formally asked regulators this week to raise its budget for the construction of two new –generation nuclear reactors at the Vogtle facility.

The utility asked for a budget increase of $737 million to about $6.85 billion. Companies contracted to build the reactors have sued Southern for $425 million to recover unexpected project costs, and the utility has countered with its own suit, denying responsibility for the overruns.

The timeline for completion of the two 1100 MW reactors—Westinghouse AP1000 reactor designs including advanced efficiencies and safety mechanisms that will be the first of their kind in the United States—has been repeatedly extended, from April 2016 originally to 2018 today. The reactors were the first new nuclear build to be licensed in the U.S. in decades, since the Three-Mile Island incident in 1979.

Southern said that, even with the cost overruns, completing the nuclear plant will be about $4 billion cheaper than changing course and building a natural gas plant instead.

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