Duke’s Fading Nuclear Dream

On April 15th I questioned if Duke’s dream to build new nuclear power plants and charge ratepayers in advance of a reactor’s operation wasn’t fading. Events of this week indicate the company’s plans may be dimming.

Funny it took Duke CEO Jim Rogers this long to realize it.

Between the events at the Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan, the announcement by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) Public Staff’s executive director, Robert Gruber, that he would not support a rate increase for reactor construction and the intense budget debate in the state legislature, you’d think Rogers would have realized sooner that he wasn’t going to get his way.

Rogers wants the legislature to shorten the process for rate hikes for nukes at the NCUC.  This means less opportunity for NC residents to have a say in the cost of our electricity. And given the record of nuclear plants going way over budget, you have to wonder how much ratepayers would have to shell out to help build Duke’s Lee Nuclear Station in Gaffney, SC.

This week it became clear that for now the legislature will not give Jim Rogers what he wants.

Also this week, Duke scaled back its request to the NCUC to spend over $200 million more on the Lee Nuclear Station. After the Public Staff recommended only about $100 million should be spent, Duke conceded.

Finally, an alliance is questioning the safety of the reactor design for the Lee Station after the containment of nuclear fuel broke down in Japan.

Rogers should stop throwing money at nuclear power and scale up energy efficiency programs and renewable energy asap. By the way, according to Duke, its household customers cut electricity usage by about 2% over the past year.  We need more of that to tackle climate change.

 

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