Southern Company, DOE Agree to Conditional Nuclear Loan Guarantee Terms

ATLANTA, June 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO David M. Ratcliffe today announced that the company's Georgia Power subsidiary has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to accept terms for a conditional commitment for loan guarantees.

"This will provide Georgia Power customers significant savings," said Georgia Power President and CEO Mike Garrett.

President Obama and DOE Secretary Steven Chu announced the award of the conditional loan guarantees to Georgia Power on February 16.

"This is another step forward on the road to nuclear power playing a prominent role in America's energy future," said Ratcliffe. "Nuclear energy is vital in any effort to make meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and meet this nation's rising demand for electricity. This conditional commitment is an endorsement of the company's performance as a safe, efficient nuclear operator with strong financial integrity."

The new units will be located at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Ga., where the company already owns and operates two nuclear units.  The conditional commitment is for loan guarantees that would apply to future borrowings related to the construction of Vogtle units 3 and 4.  

Total guaranteed borrowings would not exceed 70 percent of the company's eligible projected costs, or approximately $3.4 billion, and are expected to be funded by the Federal Financing Bank.  Any guaranteed borrowings would be full recourse to Georgia Power and secured by a first priority lien on the company's 45.7 percent ownership interest in the two new units.

Final approval and issuance of the loan guarantees are subject to receipt of the Combined Operating License from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), completion of final agreements, the receipt of any other required regulatory approvals and satisfaction of other conditions.  The company received an early site permit and limited work authorization from the NRC for the two additional units in 2009, and site work has begun.  

The additions of units 3 and 4 are expected to produce approximately 3,500 jobs during construction and 800 permanent jobs once the units begin operation.

Along with Georgia Power's existing portion of the two 1,100-megawatt reactors, the remaining ownership is split among Oglethorpe Power Corporation, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities.  Georgia Power's share of the project cost is currently projected at approximately $6.1 billion, which includes approximately $1.7 billion of financing costs to be collected during construction.

The DOE loan guarantees are expected to save Georgia Power's customers millions in interest costs annually over the expected life of any guaranteed borrowings, based on preliminary estimates.  The actual amount of the interest savings will depend upon the final terms and the timing of the specific borrowings and cannot be determined at this time.

Units 3 and 4 are expected to begin commercial operation in 2016 and 2017, respectively.  Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Company, will oversee the construction as well as operate the two new units for Georgia Power and the other owners.  Southern Nuclear currently operates Plant Vogtle's two existing nuclear power units as well as Georgia Power's Plant Hatch nuclear facility near Baxley, Ga., and Alabama Power's Plant Farley nuclear facility near Dothan, Ala.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company.  The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates well below the national average.  Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.

With 4.4 million customers and more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast.  A leading U.S. producer of electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications.  Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices below the national average.  Southern Company is consistently listed among the top U.S. electric service providers in customer satisfaction by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).  Visit our Web site at

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements:

Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning the conditional commitment and DOE loan guarantees, estimated cost savings from DOE loan guarantees, and projected costs of construction and in service dates for Vogtle units 3 and 4. Southern Company and Georgia Power caution that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Southern Company and Georgia Power; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in the Annual Reports on Form 10-K of Southern Company and Georgia Power for the year ended December 31, 2009, and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual  results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: timely receipt of necessary  regulatory approvals related to the Plant Vogtle expansion, including Georgia Public Service Commission and NRC approvals; interest rate fluctuations and financial market conditions, including the credit ratings of Southern Company and Georgia Power; satisfaction of all conditions to the final issuance and approval of DOE loan guarantees, including negotiation of final agreements, continuing due diligence by the DOE and receipt of any required regulatory approvals; and the ability to control costs and avoid delays in the construction of Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4, including risks related to shortages and inconsistent quality of equipment, materials and labor, work stoppages, contractor or supplier non-performance under construction or other agreements, adverse weather conditions, unforeseen engineering problems, changes in project design or scope, environmental and geological conditions, and unanticipated cost increases.  Southern Company and Georgia Power expressly disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking information.  

SOURCE Southern Company