HEADING SOUTH: Southern Co. earnings dropped 52 percent to $297 million in the second quarter mainly because of increased costs for building a coal gasification plant in Mississippi.

HEADING SOUTH: Southern Co. earnings dropped 52 percent to $297 million in the second quarter mainly because of increased costs for building a coal gasification plant in Mississippi.

POWER DRAIN: The utility has written off a total of $611 million in charges for the power plant, and executive say there could be more.

BUDGET DEAL: Southern Co. also dropped efforts to increase its construction budget for a nuclear plant in Georgia. The deal helps Southern avoid disclosing sensitive financial information as it negotiates a more than $900 million dispute with the firms that designed and are building the plant.