Florida Citizens Organizing to Repeal Advanced Nuclear Cost Recovery
  • Nuclear industry flailing nationwide

    Posted on July 2nd, 2013 Florida Citizens No comments


    The “renaissance” that never was. This paper is from 2008, just 2 years after the push for nuclear began.

    Over the last year, it has become increasingly clear that the nuclear ‘renaissance’ we’ve heard so much about is a dud. In fact, in just the last few months, the United States decreased from 104 operating reactors to 100. In Florida, Duke Energy announced it would shutter the Crystal River reactor. Shortly after, Florida ratepayers celebrated a small victory with the passage of Senate Bill 1472 that has now been signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. This bill falls short of the much needed repeal but at least adds some modest consumer protections to the nuclear tax legislation in which the big power companies can bill their customers in advance for costs associated with new nuclear generation.

    June was a tough month for the nuclear industry, as several projects suffered setbacks. First, MidAmerican Energy announced plans to drop their pursuit of new nuclear in Iowa. Shortly after, California Edison announced they will shutdown their troubled San Onofre reactors. Then, Exelon canceled plans to increase energy production at reactors in Pennsylvania and Illinois. Meanwhile, down south, Tennessee Valley Authority slowed work at their Bellefonte reactor in Alabama and laid off 75% of the project’s workers.

    That is a lot to happen in one month. But if we look back over the last year, this downward trend for the nuclear industry may have arguably began a while ago. Certainly the devastating Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011 continues to plague the industry worldwide. In August 2012, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied licensing for Calvert Cliffs in Maryland for being foreign owned, despite a recent $7.5 billion loan guarantee offered by the Department of Energy.

    Shortly after that, in October, Dominion announced plans to shutter the Kewaunee reactor in Wisconsin because it was no longer economically feasible. In March of this year a tragic construction accident at the Entergy’s Arkansas One reactor killed one worker and injured several others. In North Carolina, Duke Energy announced it would suspend plans to build new reactors at the existing Shearon Harris nuclear plant, and the operating reactor was taken offline for a cracked reactor sensor that went undetected for a year. The shutdown, which lasted only a couple of weeks, is expected to cost $10-20 million. In Michigan, Entergy’s Palisades reactor was shutdown for the sixth time since 2012 for radioactive leaks.

    Is the Florida Public Service Commission aware of any of this?

    It will be interesting to see how SB1472 will impact the current nuclear cost recovery docket before the Public Service Commission (PSC), in which Florida Power and Light (FPL) and Duke Energy are asking for nearly $300 million. If approved, this would bring the total to over $1.5 billion. So far, the PSC has not denied any funds requested, in spite of neither utility actually committing to build the proposed new reactors at Turkey Point and in Levy County. Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to the upcoming docket this fall.

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