(Updates with closing share price in last paragraph.)
Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Southern Co., the largest U.S. power company by market value, said third-quarter profit increased as demand for electricity rose on continued economic recovery in the Southeast.
Net income rose to $916 million, or $1.07 a share, from $817 million, or 98 cents, a year earlier, Atlanta-based Southern said in a statement today. Per-share profit was 3 cents more than the average of 16 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
“We continue to see a recovery in the Southeast, albeit at a slower pace,” Thomas Fanning, Southern’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview after the earnings were released.
Industrial electricity sales rose 1.6 percent from a year earlier, while residential sales fell 6.9 percent because temperatures were cooler than 2010, especially during September, Southern said. American Electric Power Co., based in Columbus, Ohio, said today industrial sales rose 5 percent across its 11- state service region.
Southern also benefited from a 13-cent-per-share gain from increased reimbursement rates for its Georgia Power subsidiary that took effect Jan. 1, Valerie Hendrickson, a Southern spokeswoman said in an e-mail.
Revenue for Georgia Power, the company’s largest subsidiary, increased 6.1 percent to $2.79 billion from a year ago, according to Southern’s earnings release.
Vogtle ‘On Track’
Southern’s new nuclear construction at Vogtle, 26 miles (42 kilometers) southeast of Augusta, Georgia, is “on track and all targets related to schedule and cost are certainly achievable,” Fanning said. The $12 billion project is the first new nuclear plant to be constructed since the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is conducting a final review of Southern’s license application for Vogtle. Fanning expects to win licensing approval shortly.
“It could happen in early 2012, but we see no technical reason why it couldn’t happen this year,” Fanning said.
Southern’s regulated utilities supply power to about 4.4 million customers in four southeastern states, according to its website.
Southern’s nuclear, coal and natural-gas fueled power plants have the capacity to generate 42,000 megawatts, enough electricity for 33.6 million homes, based on a U.S. Energy Department estimate.
Southern was unchanged at $43.12 at the close in New York.
--Editors: Jessica Resnick-Ault, Tina Davis
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