Duke Energy has announced it will cancel plans for a new nuclear power plant in Levy County, Florida. With no new energy to show, ratepayers are on the hook for the cost, while Duke’s turned a profit.
The Levy County nuclear site has been in the works since 2006. Then-Progress Energy projected it would go online in the middle of this decade at a cost of around $6 billion. A series of delays ballooned that cost to well over $20 billion and pushed the timeframe back another ten years. Meanwhile, a 2007 Florida law allowed the utility to charge ratepayers for the project’s cost, at the usual mark-up, before it started producing energy.
“Those customers have paid the utility company over a billion dollars, over a billion dollars, and will get absolutely nothing for it,” says Florida state Senator Mike Fasano.
Duke says customers have paid $743 million so far, with another $196 remaining to be collected.
Fasano helped repeal the Florida law, but that repeal is one of the reasons Duke says the project no longer makes financial sense, along with its delays and the advent of cheaper natural gas.
“Each year we evaluate the viability of various plants and options that might be on the table and in this case here, the tea leaves are now different, and so this is not the viable option for us today,” says Duke spokesman Tim Pettit.
The cancellation leaves Duke with just one new nuclear site in the works, in Cherokee County, South Carolina.