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Southern's earnings impacted by increased Kemper plant cost

ATLANTA — Southern Company, the parent of Mississippi Power Co., reports first quarter 2013 earnings of $81 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with earnings of $368 million, or 42 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2012.

The first quarter results include two charges against earnings – a $333-million (38 cents per share) after-tax charge related to an increased construction estimate for Mississippi Power’s Kemper County project and a $16-million (2 cents per share) after-tax charge related to the restructuring of a leveraged lease investment.

Excluding these items, Southern Company earned $430 million, or 49 cents a share, during the first quarter of 2013.

The revised construction cost estimate reflects the company’s current analysis of the cost to complete the Kemper project and the related recognition of charges to income. The company’s analysis is ongoing and will continue throughout the project’s construction phase.

“In keeping with our commitment to customers, Southern Company will fully absorb the increased costs related to the Kemper project,” said Thomas A. Fanning, Southern Company chairman, president and CEO. “This decision enables us to maintain our commitment to the Mississippi Public Service Commission under the settlement agreement, while retaining the benefits of 21st century coal for customers.”

Mississippi Power does not intend to amend its recent regulatory filings for a seven-year rate plan, which do not reflect these new estimates.

Elsewhere, earnings were positively influenced by closer-to-normal weather in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012, as well as retail revenue effects at some of Southern Company’s traditional operating companies.

“We continue to see positive signs of emerging economic growth in the Southeast, albeit at a slow pace,” said Fanning. “Activity in our economic development pipeline remains robust, and housing-related manufacturing segments are beginning to strengthen as well. These developments bode well for the recovery of our region and the future of our business.”

First quarter 2013 operating revenues were $3.9 billion, compared with $3.6 billion for the same period in 2012, an increase of 8.1 percent.

Kilowatt-hour sales to retail customers in Southern Company’s four-state service area increased 2.3 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the first quarter of 2012. Residential and commercial energy sales increased 8.3 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, while industrial energy sales decreased 2.1 percent.

Total energy sales to Southern Company’s customers in the Southeast, including wholesale sales, increased 4.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012.

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