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Robert Triguax column: Too bad we can't shut down Florida legislators as easily as we can shut a nuclear plant



On Thursday, Duke Energy pulled the plug on plans to build a nuclear power plant in Levy County. Customers are still on the hook for $1.5 billion. Duke shareholders get to keep $150 million. Tampa Bay Times business columnist Robert Triguax doesn't mince words in a column analyzing the news. An excerpt:

The real reason the witless sheep in Tally let this happen is that power companies wanted to shift both the cost and the risk of building a nuclear plant on to its customers and off of its shareholders.

If charging people in advance for private sector projects like nuclear power plants is such a clever, money-saving idea, why has it not caught fire as a way to finance any big, long-term project?

Because it is bogus. Because only monopolies, like electric utilities, can get away with such self-serving shams. Because private sector competition should decide what projects deserve to win or lose financial backing.

Nowhere in the country do you see big Wall Street firms or banks lending billions of dollars to electric utilities for nuclear plants. The risk is too high. The recent history of building nuclear plants is plagued with fantastic delays and enormous cost overruns.

Repeatedly postponed, the Levy plant's expected costs skyrocketed to nearly $25 billion in the last seven years. That's the most expensive nuclear plant project in the country's history.

A Tampa Bay Times analysis published in May of this year revealed that, in the long run, building and operating a natural gas plant to generate electricity is cheaper by billions of dollars than the Levy plant with the same power output.

No wonder Duke has now canned the Levy nuke plant for a planned natural gas plant.

[Last modified: Friday, August 2, 2013 6:42am]


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