- Associated Press - Saturday, May 27, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - Executives of a company financing construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia continue to be awarded millions of dollars in incentives, despite it being behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

Southern Company, the parent firm financing Plant Vogtle’s two new reactors, held its annual shareholders meeting recently to give investing companies and others the chance to discuss issues with executives, The Augusta Chronicle reported (https://bit.ly/2s7AdIF ).

Some shareholders are not happy about the board of directors’ decision to award incentives to executives in light of losses at two of the company’s major projects: Kemper Plant in Mississippi and the Vogtle expansion in Georgia’s Burke County, the Georgia newspaper reported.

The contract company Westinghouse, responsible for the Vogtle expansion, filed for bankruptcy March 29, prompting fears of potential project abandonment.

At least week’s meeting, about 40 percent of the shareholders voted to give themselves a more influential role in handing out incentives, which are approved and controlled by the board.

“The shareholder opposition to the executive compensation plan is a vote of no confidence in the board’s failure to hold executives accountable for the Kemper and Vogtle project failures in 2015 and 2016,” said Edward Kamonjoh, executive director of 50/50 Climate Project, which has been monitoring the projects.

Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning earned about $1.3 million in 2016, a $50,000 raise from his 2015 salary. His performance pay incentive for 2016, as approved by the board of directors prior to Wednesday’s shareholder meeting, was more than $2.7 million, according to a 2017 proxy statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Paul Bowers, CEO of Southern Company’s largest subsidiary Georgia Power, which is footing the bill for construction in the wake of Westinghouse’s bankruptcy, earned a $721,000 base salary in 2016, a $21,000 raise from 2015. Bowers’ incentive pay was more than $1.1 million.

The executives earned their pay for being “above target” and for “making significant progress” at Vogtle, as well as the troubled Kemper Clean Coal Plant in Mississippi, the SEC document stated.

At the Georgia Public Service Commission hearing this month, executives told the commission that construction at the Vogtle project had fallen four months behind schedule. Earlier this year, Georgia Power also announced it was moving operational deadlines for units 3 and 4 back six and three months, respectively.

A Georgia Power spokesman said the company is committed to the Vogtle project.

“As we have discussed, all options are being considered for the expansion at Plant Vogtle,” said Jacob Hawkins. “We continue to conduct a full-scale schedule and cost-to-complete assessment for the project and will work with the Georgia PSC and the project’s other co-owners to determine the best path forward. We expect to have this analysis completed this summer.”

“For our customers and neighbors in Burke and Richmond Counties, we want them to know that we remain committed to them and the communities we serve, regardless of the outcome of our assessment and how the Vogtle expansion project moves forward,” Hawkins added.

The Mississippi plant is years behind deadline and has overrun its budget by billions of dollars, just like Vogtle.

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Information from: The Augusta Chronicle , https://www.augustachronicle.com


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