October 24, 2014

Nuclear Power

Progress Energy makes concrete decision

... about their 34-year-old nuclear power plant in Crystal River.

Art Levy | 9/1/2011
Crystal River nuclear plant
Progress Energy plans to replace much of the containment structure's 42-inch-thick concrete walls where cracks were discovered at the Crystal River nuclear plant. [Photo: Will Vragovic/St. Petersburg Times]

More Progress

The Crystal River Nuclear Plant isn't Progress Energy's only concern these days. The utility is seeking to build another nuclear plant just to the north of Crystal River in Levy County. That plant, which would cost $17.2 billion, hasn't been licensed yet by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Progress executives anticipate the NRC's approval in late 2012 or early 2013. Progress is also in the midst of a $13.7-billion merger with Duke Power. The deal is expected to close by the end of this year.

Faced with a nuclear power plant that hasn't worked since 2009, Progress Energy executives considered 22 scenarios, including shuttering the 34-year-old Crystal River Nuclear Plant. They announced this summer that they would fix the plant, instead, pledging between $900 million and $1.3 billion to repair cracks in a concrete containment wall.

"The sooner we can get it back in service, the sooner our customers are going to realize the benefits of that lower cost power in our system," says Vincent Dolan, president and CEO of Progress Energy Florida.

Plans include replacing much of the containment structure's 42-inch-thick concrete walls, except for areas that were replaced after workers discovered the cracks in October 2009, when the plant was off line for planned maintenance. The soonest the plant could start up again would be 2014.

Progress executives say insurance should pay for the repairs, apart from a $10-million deductible, but the cost to customers is less clear. The company expects it will have to buy $1 billion worth of electricity to make up for the electricity a working Crystal River would have produced. Insurance won't pay the whole $1 billion, so Progress customers are stuck with some of the bill: Currently, residential customers pay $54.35 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, with $3.50 of that total going toward replacement power because the Crystal River nuclear plant is off line.

On the up side, Progress executives say the nuclear plant, when operational, saves $300 million a year, compared to generating electricity from a non-nuclear plant.

Crystal River nuclear plant
[Photo: Progress Energy]

Tags: Southwest, Energy & Utilities

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