Southern (SO) Plans to Hike Rates, Invest in Infrastructure

·3 min read

Georgia Power — a unit of The Southern Company SO — is asking customers to pay almost 12% more over the next three years on their electric bills to help finance the cost of upgrades to its transmission and distribution network. A proposal presented by the power supplier on Friday to the Georgia Public Service Commission seeks to boost revenues by nearly $7 billion during the period. In addition to the fortification of its electric grid, a part of the increase (or around $2.2 billion) would support Georgia Power’s continued efforts to improve long-term efficiency.  

While the impact of a rate hike will vary with customer class, for residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month, the increase would average a $14.32 addition to their monthly bill in 2023, $1.35 in 2024 and 62 cents in 2025 — for a total of $16.29 per month. The utility claims that it has infused some $10 billion during the past decade to augment its network. The new rates, which have been questioned by a Georgia consumer advocacy organization on grounds of the already stretched budget of the households, are likely to take effect at the beginning of next year.

Founded in 1945, Atlanta, GA-based Southern Company is one of the largest utilities in the United States. The Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) firm deals with the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. Following its merger with AGL Resources on July 1, 2016, Southern Company serves approximately nine million customers through its seven electric and natural gas distribution units.

The company boasts a generating capacity of 46,000 megawatts, around 200,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines, and more than 80,000 miles of natural gas pipelines.

3 Utility Stocks to Buy

Investors interested in the Utilities space might look at American Electric Power AEP, Eversource Energy ES and Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. HE, both carrying a Zacks Rank of 2 (Buy), currently.

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

American Electric Power is valued at some $48.1 billion. AEP, headquartered in Columbus, OH, has a projected earnings growth rate of 5.3% for 2022.

American Electric Power has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of roughly 2.4%, on average. AEP shares have gained around 11.9% in a year.

Eversource Energy is valued at some $28.8 billion. ES has a projected earnings growth rate of 6.5% for 2022.

Eversource Energy has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of roughly 0.1%, on average. ES shares have gained around 3.2% in a year.

Hawaiian Electric Industries is valued at approximately $4.4 billion. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for HE’s 2022 earnings has been revised 1.4% upward over the past 60 days.

Hawaiian Electric Industries, headquartered in Honolulu, has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of roughly 30.8%, on average. HE shares have lost around 3.9% in a year.


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