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Southern Company has been the lead utility in nuclear power revival in the USA. However, they are having serious construction problems with their two huge new nuclear plants and they are also having serious construction problems with their huge coal to gas fired power plant.

Vogtle nuclear plant

The contractor in charge of Plant Vogtle’s $14 billion nuclear expansion has initiated a series of layoffs at the Burke County site.

Gentry Brann, the vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for The Shaw Group, acknowledged the cuts in an e-mailed response to questions, but did not elaborate on how many workers are involved – or the expected duration of the downsizing.

In recent months, some phases of the project have been slowed as engineers resolved issues including rebar that was not consistent with the design approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

One of the key steps in the construction of Unit 3 was the pouring of 6,850 cubic yards of specially mixed “nuclear concrete” that must be applied in a continuous, 50-hour stream to form the basemat foundation.

That event was scheduled to occur last fall, but is now expected to commence during the first quarter of 2013.

Kemper coal to gas power plant:

In the woods of east Mississippi, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Co. is pouring billions of dollars into construction of a power plant that burns coal but would emit less carbon dioxide. It’s a response to looming federal limits on carbon emissions as regulators try to curtail global warming.

Each day, as 2,600 construction workers toil away at Plant Ratcliffe in Kemper County, the big bet becomes more expensive. The projected cost is at least $2.8 billion, almost half a billion dollars above original expectations, and some estimates say it will go higher.

The Kemper plant is the most expensive project ever built by Southern subsidiary Mississippi Power Co. The company promises completion in May 2014, but some engineers monitoring construction for state regulators warn the cost could reach $3.1 billion, and completion isn’t likely until November 2014 at the earliest.

Those same engineers, with the firm Burns & Roe, say the plant’s linchpin coal-to-gas technology isn’t certain to work.

Read the gory details, then run and sell your shares of Southern Company.

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