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Robert Trigaux

April latest start-up date for Progress Energy Crystal River nuclear plant, down since Sept. 2009



crystalrivernukenrc.jpgWake up and good morning. I'm thinking this is at least the fourth time Progress Energy's claimed it's about to restart its sole nuclear power plant in Florida. The Crystal River (Citrus County) nuke plant was shut down waaaaay back in September of 2009 for a refueling but then found it had to fix a gap in its containment wall. The repairs, including the delicate calibration to set the tension of steel cables blanketing the nuke's concrete containment shell, have proved stratospherically expensive and taken far longer than expected. The new start-up date is April.

As reported here by the Ocala Star-Banner, the cost has topped more than $440 million in repairs and power replacement over 18 months of down time. Let's break that down:

* As of December 2010, Progress' insurance company, Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited (NEIL), had paid out $181 million to the utility. Of that, $117 million went toward buying replacement power and $64 million for repairs. 

* Progress Energy has spent $150 million for repairs as of December and another $290 million to buy power that otherwise would have been generated by the plant. Progress continues to submit claims to its insurance company. The amount the insurance company doesn't pay will be passed on to consumers.

The utility has 1.6 million Florida customers.

Last November, the company's last official update said it expected to restart the Crystal river in the first quarter of 2011. Here's the Venture blog's previous update.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting at 1 p.m. on March 22 to discuss the utility's preparation and readiness to restart it's 34-year-old facility. The meeting will be held in Room 150 of the Crystal River nuclear plant training center, 8200 West Venable St., Crystal River. More details here and in this Feb. 28 NRC letter.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 7:12am]


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