Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Duke in hearing on nuclear costs

Amid the aftershocks of the Fukushima-Daiichi crisis, Duke Energy is seeking the S.C. Public Service Commission's blessing today to spend more money on its next nuclear plant.

Duke took much of the drama out of the day by agreeing to whittle back the additional $229 million in additional pre-construction costs it first sought. That would have put the total spent on the Lee plant, which Duke hasn't yet decided to build, at $459 million through 2013.

Instead Duke agreed with consumer and environmental groups to limit spending to "only the absolute minimum amount of dollars necessary to keep the nuclear option available" -- $120 million from this January through June 2012. That would keep the $11 billion Lee on track to start up sometime between 2021 and 2023, a date that's been pushed back a couple of times.

Duke has agreed to similar terms with North Carolina's consumer advocates on a Lee spending proposal before the N.C. Utilities Commission. That commission hasn't yet ruled.

Approval by the states would give Duke reassurance that it can eventually recover Lee's costs from customers, although that would take separate OKs.

Duke also commits in the S.C. agreement to continuing to try to share the risks of building a new plant. It pledges to keep negotiating for an interest in the two reactors that Santee Cooper and SCANA are preparing to build in Jenkinsville, S.C.

Friends of the Earth nuclear activist Tom Clements, the only party to the case that didn't sign the agreement, was scheduled to question Duke CEO Jim Rogers and other executives today.


Unknown said...

A special "shout out" is in order for Duke's most recent move to require long time customers to post a deposit if they have had 2 late payments in the last 12 months....what a way to thank your customers when they are struggling with record unemployment, underemployment and $4,00 per gallon gasoline.