Can't make this up: Amid Japan nuclear crisis, Duke Energy wants consumers to prepay nuke costs
Wake up and good morning. You just can't make this stuff up. Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy will ask North Carolina regulators today -- as Japan faces the partial meltdown and increasing radiation leaks of multiple nuclear power plants -- for state approval to spend up to $459 million on a nuclear plant that customers will likely be asked to pay for whether or not Duke actually builds it.
Sound familiar? That's pretty much what Florida regulators rubber stamped years ago that's allowing Progress Energy (soon to become part of Duke Energy) and FPL (parent of Florida Power & Light) to charge higher electricity rates to Florida customers now to pay for planned nuke plants in the Sunshine State -- that may or may not actually be built.
Duke will ask the N.C. Utilities Commission to endorse its decision to invest up to $287 million in work on its planned "Lee plant" through 2013. It has already been allowed to spend $172 million. Read more here in the Charlotte Observer, plus this companion piece on how Japan's nuclear woes could shift the public stance on nukes in the Carolinas.
In an interview, Jim Warren, who heads the N.C. Warn group opposing nuclear expansion in the Carolinas, says he's worried the enormous clout of a combined Duke Energy-Progress Energy company -- which would be the largest power company in the United States -- will simply overwhelm state regulators with their lobbying muscle.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times