Southern (SO) Initiates Fuel Loading at Vogtle 3 Nuclear Plant – October 19, 2022

Southern Company‘s (SO Quick QuoteSO Free Report) subsidiary — Georgia Power — stated that it began loading nuclear fuel into its Vogtle Unit 3 reactor core at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, GA. The process marks the first nuclear unit to be erected in the United States in more than 30 years.

Per Georgia Power, nuclear technicians and workers will transfer 157 fuel assemblies to the reactor core at Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta, in the upcoming days as part of the fuel loading process.

After fuel is loaded, operators will be testing if the unit’s cooling and steam supply system works. Then, they will start producing electricity and link the plant to the transmission grid, with the reactor intended to reach commercial operation by the end of March.

There are already two reactors operating at the plant, with fuel being loaded into a third unit. The fourth unit is under construction. The cost of the third and fourth reactors jumped from an original estimate of $14 billion to more than $30 billion.

Southern Nuclear will be the operator of the new unit on behalf of the co-owners — Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities. The units are a significant part of Georgia Power’s commitment to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to its 2.7 million customers. The two new units, once in operation, will provide clean energy and power more than 500,000 homes and businesses.

Founded in 1945, Southern Company is one of the largest utilities in the United States. The Atlanta, GA-based company deals with the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. Following its merger with AGL Resources on Jul 1, 2016, Southern Company serves approximately nine million customers through its seven electric and natural gas distribution units.

Southern Company currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Some other top-ranked stocks from the utility sector that warrant a look include CMS Energy (CMS Quick QuoteCMS free report) , TransAlta (TAC Quick QuoteTAC free report) and amers (AEE Quick QuoteAEE Free Report) , each currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for CMS’ 2022 earnings is pegged at $2.89 per share, up about 9% from the year-ago loss of $2.65.

CMS beat the consensus mark for earnings in three of the trailing four quarters, the average being around 8.1%.

The consensus estimate for TransAlta’s 2022 earnings stands at 54 cents per share, which implies an increase of 134.8% from the year-ago earnings of 23 cents.

TransAlta is valued at around $2.2 billion.

Estimates for Ameren’s 2022 earnings are pegged at $4.09 per share, which is about 6.5% higher than the year-ago estimate of $3.84 per share.

Ameren is valued at around $20.5 billion.

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