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Duke Energy Scraps Plans For Florida Nuclear Plant, Forced To Delay Others 233

Posted by Soulskill
from the running-out-the-clock dept.
mdsolar writes "According to the Associated Press, 'The largest utility in the U.S. is scuttling plans to build a $24.7 billion nuclear power plant in a small Gulf Coast county in Florida, the company announced Thursday. Duke Energy Corp. said it made the decision because of delays by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in issuing licenses for new plants, and because of recent legislative changes in Florida.' Meanwhile, 'Duke Energy's plans to build two nuclear reactors in South Carolina have been delayed by federal regulators who say budget cuts and changes to the plans require more time. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission told Duke in a letter that a final hearing on plans to build the William S. Lee nuclear plant in Cherokee County would have to wait until 2016. The original target had been this past March."
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Duke Energy Scraps Plans For Florida Nuclear Plant, Forced To Delay Others

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  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Friday August 02, 2013 @09:55AM (#44456409) Journal

    Either these kinds of plants are ok or they are not. If not, ban them. If so, get the hell out of the way.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:18AM (#44456673) Homepage Journal

      Either these kinds of plants are ok or they are not. If not, ban them. If so, get the hell out of the way.

      Not a matter of them being OK. Dismiss that right off.

      I lived for years in a city where a battle was waged by the NIMBYs and a regional power company, with the state and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) sitting on a fence like so many crows and cawing in some change to regulations every now and then. It nearly bankrupted the power company, submitting, resubmitting, re-resubmitting construction plans, plant wiring, cooling system designs and plumbing, environmental impact, etc, etc, etc. Effectively they would spend months building reactor housing and then have to tear it all out and start again. After years of this the writing was on the wall, it would never become a nuclear plant (at least, most likely) The plant became a gas generating plant, though most of the structure could be converted to nuclear if the present owners feel like going to battle again. The designs were fine, but courts and red tape can kill any project.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Reminds me of Bruce Nuclear. [wikipedia.org] That went on, and on, and on, and on, after they shut it down for refurbishment and replacing the reactors to a more modern design. And it wasn't the NIMBY's, it was the environmentalists making the NIMBY's froth all over the place. And it was the environmentalists spear heading it all in the courts too.

    • Worth putting government money into it or not is another question that ends up being asked as well. Banks won't touch it.

      So it's not about "get the hell out of the way" - it's about "get behind it in a huge way, or not".
      • When banks won't touch it you know you have a problem.....
        • by sjames (1099)

          Not necessarily. It may just mean it's legal and has a fair return on investment for a fair level of risk. banks hate that. Banks prefer to make money hand over fist and push the risks onto others. They don't much care if it's lagal or not.

    • by ssam (2723487)

      If we banned unsafe energy production we'd have to turn off all the coal and gas plants, drain all the hydro dams (those things are nasty when they break) and stop building any renewable that required construction work (especially at heights, like roofs and tall wind turbines).

      Don't get me started on the explosive liquids we put in our cars or the explosive gas that's piped to my house for heating/cooking.

    • by mi (197448)
      Banning is hard — you, pretty much, need a law passed to outright ban nuclear energy. Sabotaging is much easier — and we've given the Executive government enough power over to sabotage anything. With a federal license required even for magicians' rabbits [dispatch.com], we are at the Executive's mercy completely.

      Not just opening a business (be it a pizzeria or a nuclear plant), even driving your own car is not a right, that could only be taken away by Judiciary, but a privilege, that requires an Executive-iss

  • by rossdee (243626) on Friday August 02, 2013 @09:58AM (#44456433)

    I don't think the gulf coast is a good place for a nuke plant anyway what with hurricanes getting stronger and more frequent

  • Thanks, NRC! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 02, 2013 @09:59AM (#44456445)

    at a time when we need more power generating capacity, it's nice to see the relevant government agency doing its best to bottleneck the process!

    • by alen (225700)

      i know people who's kids go to school within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant. you have to sign waivers allowing the school to give your kids some kind of radiation treatment in case of a meltdown

      • Re:Thanks, NRC! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Talderas (1212466) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:16AM (#44456631)

        That's a CYA policy. Parents have a nasty habit of making a ruckus if a school gives their kids anything they didn't agree to. It's probably a permission ship to be able to give iodine tablets to the students in the event of a meltdown. So even though those tablets would likely help keep the kids from getting thyroid cancer parents would bitch at the school for doing it without permission.

        • Re:Thanks, NRC! (Score:4, Informative)

          by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:25AM (#44457499)
          I'd argue it's more that lawyers have a nasty habit of convincing stupid people who are upset about something to pursue frivolous lawsuits. Schools can weather bitching and angry letters. What they're paranoid about is getting sued for things beyond their control, so they think a piece of paper with a signature will prevent that.

          As someone who has been sued for $200K for giving someone a sore knee (trying to get money from my insurance provider), I'm convinced sometimes greedy lawsuits just happen and there's not much you can do to avoid it. In the case of a nuclear meltdown, parents would sue for not providing lead shields and rad-x.
      • by sjames (1099)

        Sounds like a lawyer who needed to pad his fees one month or justify his retainer.

      • I'm within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant with two reactors, a shipyard that builds nuclear powered ships, and a naval base with numerous nuclear reactors floating at the docks. I have not seen any such document for any of my four children. What I have signed is a waiver giving them permission to treat my children medically in an emergency, which is a no brainer. If your district specifically calls out treatment "in the event of a nuclear meltdown" then your school board has issues.

  • I think I played this one. It's the one where the power company turns everyone into mutants and a blond haired Bruce Campbell goes around cracking wise and blowing up the mutants.

  • by MrDoh! (71235) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:05AM (#44456505) Homepage Journal
    It's been paid for since... 7ish years ago. Higher taxes to pay for something that the tax payers didn't get so... Can we have the money back for the nuke plant we paid for but didn't get? No? I see. Again, where's the money?
    • Once again the taxpayer gets the shaft. Par for the course in our great Sunshine State.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:21AM (#44456697) Journal
    Yeah, never miss an opportunity to blame the government and the bureaucracy. All that fracking and all that cheap natural gas flooding the market has no bearing on the decision. Most energy experts predicting USA to become a net exporter of petroleum products in the coming years did not affect the decision. 25 billion dollars is a pittance for Duke Energy and the only reason they scuttled the project was because of bureaucracy and regulation and delays.

    Expect the same thing to be repeated in West Virginia and South Western Pennsylvania coal belts. They will blame the government, onerous regulations, etc etc and claim "clean coal" was killed by enviro nazis. All the while the natural gas is getting cheaper than even the dirty coal. If you spend more money on cleaning up dirty coal how can you compete with another thing that burns more easily, transports more easily and costs less?

    We may disagree whether this boom in fracking and natural gas abundance is a good or bad. But one thing we can be sure is, these entrenched interests would blame the government at every opportunity even when the true cause is thumping its chest like an 800 lb gorilla right on their faces.

    • The reason why the plant was cancelled was because the price tag is $25 billion. The price tag is $25 billion because of government regulation overcomplicating and slowing down construction, causing interest on capital costs to balloon to the point of unprofitability.

    • Duke's market capitalization is $50 billion and their annual earnings are $2.2 billion. How is $25 billion a pittance?

      To that end, there are several companies trying to come out with pre-approved smaller reactor designs (50MW instead of 1100MW) which they would build for $1 billion apiece and then build them one after another on the same site until they had however many they wanted (could be 24, could be 6). That way, at any one time the financial risk is actually manageable.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:25AM (#44456727)
    Youtube [youtube.com]

    So, why is anyone surprised his executive agencies are putting up more roadblocks to building power plants? I mean, he said it in plain english.
  • Is this one of those cases where the state allowed them to put a surcharge [orlandosentinel.com] on customers' bills for years before they even built the plant?

    I don't suppose we'll ever see that money back, will we?
    • Is this one of those cases where the state allowed them to put a surcharge [orlandosentinel.com] on customers' bills for years before they even built the plant?

      I don't suppose we'll ever see that money back, will we?

      No, in fact the reason why they cancelled the plant was precisely because the state's government told them they could not raise their rates to pay for the construction of the plant, and they didn't have $25 billion just sitting around to pay for the whole thing in advance. I'm sure in 10 years when Floridians are paying three times as much for electricity that they wish they took the 5% increase when they had the chance. That's short-term thinking politicians for you though, they couldn't care less what hap

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:38AM (#44456873)

    Assuming an industry standard 92.1% uptime for the plant, an industry standard 0.85 CENTS per KWH operating & refueling cost and a 60 year lifespan, this plant with its two AP1000 reactors would generate 19.6 Billion KWH per year for 60 years. That works out to an installed cost of $6.91 per KWH of capacity.

    Meanwhile, I just installed a 6.2 KWH solar array for $24,000, (before any tax rebates and including all engineering, labor and other parts like inverters). Factoring in its 30 year life span (meaning factoring in that I'd need to buy TWO systems to equal the 60 year lifespan of the reactor) and factoring in average solar availability here in Florida, my cost per installed KWH is $4.00.

    Those are real numbers, not speculative. And they DON'T INCLUDE any transmission losses, which average 7% nationwide.

    So it is cheaper for us as a nation to put solar panels on every roof than it is to build nuke plants.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      Factoring in its 30 year life span

      Are you really expecting to go 30 years with absolutely no maintenance or breakdowns on your shiny new system?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Abso-fucking-lutely. Other than hosing off the panels a few times a year, there is no maintenance at all. It is an entirely solid state system with no moving parts.

        What if something fails? The inverters and panels all have non pro-rated 30 year warranties. Real-time monitoring software lets me know if a panel or inverter fails. When, or if it does, it is replaced, for free as covered by the warranty---all of those costs are already included in the price.

        Also you seem to think I am the first person in the

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Also the 42% lower price for solar vs nuke would indicate there's a little wiggle room for a higher failure rate than expected--and remember my numbers already include paying for the entire system TWICE. If I had to buy THREE systems in 60 years instead of TWO, my cost per KWH would still be $6 vs $6.90 for nuke (really $7.39 for nuke when you factor in transmission losses).

          ALSO--the price of solar PV cells has steadily been dropping due to research and develpment. My replacement cost in 30 (or even 20) y

    • by Dorianny (1847922)
      Unfortunately because of the unpredictable nature of solar power generation, to have solar became any significant part of energy production you will either have to have a battery based short term storage system or the power company has to have a conventional plant sitting on idle ready to take over when power generation drops do to weather. Either way your cost calculations don't scale!
    • by Solandri (704621) on Friday August 02, 2013 @05:10PM (#44461767)
      I'm not sure what is wrong with your math since you don't show any calcs, but it is horribly wrong.

      Assuming an industry standard 92.1% uptime for the plant, an industry standard 0.85 CENTS per KWH operating & refueling cost and a 60 year lifespan, this plant with its two AP1000 reactors would generate 19.6 Billion KWH per year for 60 years. That works out to an installed cost of $6.91 per KWH of capacity.

      First of all, there is no such thing as kWh of installed capacity. kWh is a unit of energy. kW is a unit of power. Installed capacities for a power plant are given in terms of power. (Unless you're talking about batteries, in which case the installed capacity is given as the maximum amount of energy it can store.)

      2 * 1000 MW * 0.921 * 8766 hours/year * 60 years = 968.8 billion kWh generated over the 60 years.

      $24.7 billion for the cost of the plant (ignoring interest since you ignored it in the solar case) works out to $24.7 / 968.8 = $0.0255 per kWh. Add the $0.0085 per kWh operating and refueling costs and you get $0.034 per kWh. Or 3.4 cents per kWh.

      It makes no sense to state this in terms of kWh per year, because that would be the cost for constructing a $24.7 billion nuclear facility, using it one year, and replacing it each following year with a new $24.7 billion facility.

      Meanwhile, I just installed a 6.2 KWH solar array for $24,000, (before any tax rebates and including all engineering, labor and other parts like inverters). Factoring in its 30 year life span (meaning factoring in that I'd need to buy TWO systems to equal the 60 year lifespan of the reactor) and factoring in average solar availability here in Florida, my cost per installed KWH is $4.00.

      Your solar panels don't put out 6.2 kW (6.2 kWh for an array makes no sense, unless you mean 6.2 kWh per month or year, which is a pittance). Assuming it's a 6.2 kW array (about 45 m^2 - reasonable for a large home installation), PV solar has a capacity factor of about 0.145 for the U.S (about 0.11 in the northern U.S., 0.18 in the desert southwest, 0.10 for northern Europe). That is, if you have 1 kW of nameplate capacity installed, over the year it will on average generate 145 Watts. So a 6.2 kW array will over the year only generate an average of 899 Watts.

      6.2 kW * 0.145 * 8766 hours/yr * 30 yrs = 236.4 thousand kWh generated over 30 years.

      At a cost of $24,000, that's $24 / 236.4 = $0.1015 per kWh, or 10.2 cents per kWh. Exactly 3x more expensive than the nuclear plant.

      So your production costs are in-line with everything government and power company sources [wikipedia.org] have been saying. PV solar costs about 2 to 5 times more than fossil fuels and nuclear.

  • 2005 Energy Act (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrKaos (858439) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:47AM (#44457001) Journal

    The breakdown of U.S energy research and development subsidies reported by the US DOE is roughly 60% for nuclear, 25% to fossil fuels and 15% to sustainable energy sources.

    Half a billion dollars worth of subsidies are available for procuring companies (i.e oil companies) proposing "pre-approved" reactor designs, even if they don't build it, and a 1.8 cent per kilowatt hour tax credit if they do.

    In addition the 2005 U.S energy bill provided another $13 billion dollars worth of subsidies and revocation of the Public Utilities Holding Company Act (PUHCA, by George.W.Bush), put into law in 1935 to stop a re-occurrence of the 1929 stock market crash. It is this economic mechanism which allows the owners of nuclear power stations to syphon money from ratepayers in the same way utilities companies did in the 1920s.

    For anyone whos says this is a problem of the "NIMBYs" (or the ratepayer) protesting the construction, it's not. Constructs in the law governing the location and construction of Nuclear Reactors specifically exclude ratepayer concerns in the consideration for approval. Utilities companies withdraw for their own reasons, usually insurance and liability as, even with the provisions of thePrice Anderson Act [wikipedia.org] Nuclear power plants are too risky to operate.

    The reality is if the Nuclear power industry was forced to cover it's own liability and fund itself it would cease to exist.

    • by TheSync (5291)

      Keep in mind California has a $3 billion solar subsidy, and there is the $18 billion in incentives for clean and renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency improvements from the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.

      You may want to look at a historical perspective [cornerstonemag.net] on US energy subsidies.

      Since 1950, renewable energy (solar, hydro power, and geothermal) has received the second-largest subsidy - $171 billion (21%), compared to $121 billion (14%) for natural gas, $104 billion (12%) for coal, and $73 bil

    • by tlambert (566799)

      The reality is if the Nuclear power industry was forced to cover it's own liability and fund itself it would cease to exist.

      Unless they were permitted to reprocess fuel as well as building breeder reactors, at which point there's be near zero waste to be subsidizing the storage on, and you'd practically eliminate the need to mine and refine pitchblende in order to obtain Uranium from the yellowcake. Win-win.

      Also Hitachi tried to *give* a U.S. town in Alaska a pebble bed reactor in order to prove the technology, and they wouldn't take the thing.

    • by Splab (574204)

      Why would you ever let private companies run your critical infrastructure?

    • by Dorianny (1847922)

      For anyone whos says this is a problem of the "NIMBYs" (or the ratepayer) protesting the construction, it's not. Constructs in the law governing the location and construction of Nuclear Reactors specifically exclude ratepayer concerns in the consideration for approval. Utilities companies withdraw for their own reasons, usually insurance and liability as, even with the provisions of thePrice Anderson Act [wikipedia.org] Nuclear power plants are too risky to operate.

      The reality is if the Nuclear power industry was forced to cover it's own liability and fund itself it would cease to exist.

      The article specifically states that they pulled out because of delays from regulators. To believe that government regulators don't respond to pressure from elected officials, which in turn are being pressured by their constituents, would be pretty disingenuous.

  • by baKanale (830108) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:06AM (#44457215)
    I'm here to build nuclear power plants and chew bubblegum... and I'm all out of patience for the plant construction licensing process.
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      I know! Thanks to red tape, Duke's Nuke will take forever to get built in North Carolina!

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:21AM (#44457395)

    The government is effectively denying nuke plants it doesn't have a right to deny by delaying hearings indefinitely.

    In criminal trials, if the prosecution fails to make their case in a speedy manner the case is dismissed by default.

    Likewise, these planning commissions should function like trials before an impartial judge concerned only with the law. The planning commission should have the ability to approve plans without a trial or if they wish to reject a plan they should bring it before a judge in a timely manner. If they fail to do so then they should wave their ability to stop the project.

    A major problem with the US government at this point is that the checks and balances between executive, legislative, and judicial have broken down to some extent. Especially in these regulatory agencies, various departments are given the authority to be judge, jury, and executioner. In some cases literally. This is all a violation of due process.

    These regulatory bodies are effectively members of the executive. They're cops. They have every right to respond to a situation but they do not have the right to pass judgement, set policy, or carry out a sentence without judicial review on a case by case basis.

    Obviously people that are against the nuclear plant will say this is good and the executive should just do whatever it wants indifferent to judicial review because the executive is doing what they want at that time. That's fine. However, what happens when the executive does something you disagree with...? You have no recourse if the regulators are absolute.

    It is in everyone's interest that this stop and that the system be held to some account. If the feds want to stall permits that's fine... they forfeit a right to contest projects in that event. If they want a say they can approve or deny permits AND offer reasons for doing so before an impartial judge.

    Short of that... its a violation of our rights. End of story.

  • If human CO2 emissions were really any kind of issue, we'd green-light new reactors as fast as possible.

    The fact that the current administration tries to block construction of them shows all too clearly how the talk about CO2 reduction is all political posturing with motives that have nothing to do with CO2 reduction.

    Obviously building nuclear plants is not helping Democratic donors enough financially.

    • Don't assume conspiracy if incompetence can explain it. The latter is far more likely.
  • by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Friday August 02, 2013 @12:40PM (#44458611) Homepage

    The two reactors were 1,100 MW each, a total of 2.2 GW.

    The price tag was $24.7 billion.

    So that's 24.7 / 2.2 = $11.23 per watt!

    Natural gas turbines are about $1 a watt. PV's going in under $2. Wind is about $6.

    http://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/the-nuclear-reontinues-apace/

This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.

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