Kemper overruns drag down Southern Co. stock

Troubles at the Kemper County power plant that Mississippi Power Co. is building are so great that they’re dragging down the stock of parent Southern Co.

The company stock has fallen since Atlanta-based Southern disclosed another $196 million in overruns related to higher construction costs and project delays, though share prices rose Monday.

The company says the additional charge is also related to the same factors it discussed in April when it charged off $184 million. The coal-fueled power plant is now projected to cost $5.5 billion.

“We have experienced decreases in construction labor productivity due to a combination of adverse weather, labor turnover and inefficiencies,” Southern CEO Tom Fanning told investors Wednesday.

The company also pushed back the completion date of the whole complex until May 2015, although it says it will begin running power turbines this summer using piped-in natural gas.

Mississippi Power says it will pay the additional money — not its 186,000 customers from Meridian to the Gulf Coast. However, the company says it also will lose $120 million to $150 million in tax benefits by not completing the complex this year. Mississippi Power says it may change its rate proposal to recover that money.

Hattiesburg American