Duke Energy to close troubled Fla. nuclear plant

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm •  Published: February 5, 2013
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Florida utilities regulators will decide when customers see refunds to compensate for higher bills Progress Energy passed along because it had to replace electricity not produced by the nuclear plant with higher-priced power.

Florida's Public Service Commission last February allowed a $150 million increase in base rates but directed Progress Energy Florida to refund customers $288 million over two years for costs related to the nuclear plant shutdown. That money started to be included last month, Mike Hughes said. Another $100 million is due to customers in 2015 and 2016 because repairs on Crystal River had not begun by the end of 2012.

Duke Energy spent $338 million through the end of 2012 to repair the nuclear plant, $143 million of which was covered by payments by insurance. How much of the cost to close the plant will be covered by customers or absorbed by shareholders will be decided by Florida regulators, Hughes said.

"The ultimate allocation of those costs will be determined in the future, so I don't have any specific percentage that we anticipate that customers might pay, a specific percentage that we anticipate shareholders might pay. That will be determined by the proceedings" convened by state regulators, Hughes said.

The Knoxville, Tenn.-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said it applauded Duke Energy for its decisive decision to close Crystal River.

"Crystal River clearly demonstrates the vulnerabilities of being overly dependent on a high-risk energy source like nuclear power, which exposes ratepayers to high financial risks and residents to unnecessary health and environmental risks," executive director Stephen Smith said.

Duke Energy has 7.1 million customers in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

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Associated Press writer Bill Kaczor in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.

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Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio



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