Pay up: Progress Energy again delays, raises price tag on Levy nuclear power plant

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How price tags have changed: In late 2006, Jeff Lyash (right), then Progress Energy Florida CEO, stopped by the Times to pitch for the first time the merits of a new nuclear power plant in Levy County that would start operating in 2016 at a price tag under $6 billion. Today (Tuesday, May 1, 2012), Progress announced it will again delay the plant until 2024 and raised the price tag to as high as $24 billion. (Buddy Eller (left), then Progress Energy Florida spokesman, is no longer with the company.Photo: Lara Cerri, Tampa Bay Times.)

So, Progress Energy continues to promote the energy virtues of a planned nuclear power plant in Levy County that -- nearly six years after first announcing the project -- is delayed by at least eight years and will cost far more than the company originally projected. Here's the press release (good luck figuring this one out).

Here's what Vincent Dolan, current CEO of Progress Energy Florida, says in today's press release of a 2006 Florida law that lets Progress Energy charge its customers in advance for the Levy project:

"The 2006 Energy Act passed in Florida makes it possible for our company to pursue new, capital-intensive nuclear investments that will help ensure clean, affordable and reliable power for customers, now and in the future."

That can be read another way. If Florida's legislators had not passed a law permitting Progress Energy to charge Floridians years and years in advance for a nuclear power plant now at least eight years late and many billions over the proposed budget, the company never would have found financing in the free market to move forward on this overpriced, higher-risk project.

In other words, capitalism never would have okayed this deal.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 11:33am]

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