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Fate of Crystal River nuke plant still undecided

3:09 PM, Oct 30, 2012   |    comments
Crystal River Nuclear Plant/Courtesy Progress Energy
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Progress Energy has not decided yet whether it will repair or retire the damaged Crystal River nuclear power plant, but the company expects to make that decision in the coming months.

On Tuesday, two company executives updated the Public Service Commission on that process and said the decision will likely come between December and next summer.

John Burnett of Progress Energy Florida, which merged with Duke Energy this year, said four technical review teams are compiling information about the pros and cons of repairing the unit or retiring it. That information will then go to the utility's top managers and board of directors.

An independent review by Zapata, Inc. found the cost of repairing the Crystal River plant would range from $1.5 billion to $3.4 billion in a worst-case scenario.

Burnett says it would be technically feasible to start a repair job by December, but very unlikely since the company is still crunching the numbers on whether it makes sense to fix the damaged reactor.

"The earliest we believe that all that information could be collected and put in a format that's appropriate for senior management and the board is December of this year. The outer bound estimate would be no later than summer of next year and in between is a middle case for when we would expect that decision to be ripe to be made."

One of the other crucial questions still up in the air is whether Progress Energy's insurer, Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited, would pay some of the repair costs so customers don't get stuck with the bill. Those negotiations continue.

Commissioner Eduardo Balbis of the Public Service Commission says Progress-Duke Energy will have the final say on whether to repair or retire the Crystal River plant. But after that decision, the PSC will decide if the company can bill customers for any costs.

"Ultimately it's Duke's decision and what the commission will do is review that decision to make sure it's the right one after it's been made."

First Coast News

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