Make us your home page

Fasano wants Progress to explain botched nuclear plant job

State Sen. Mike Fasano wants Progress Energy to explain to lawmakers and the public what went wrong at the broken Crystal River nuclear plant.

Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said that with customers potentially on the hook for $670 million in repairs to the plant, the public has a right to understand what caused the utility's nuclear plant to break.

If the plant can be repaired, it is expected to cost more than $2.5 billion to repair, making it one of the costliest nuclear incidents in U.S. history.

"I have asked the chairman of the utilities committee to have Progress Energy come before the committee to answer questions, to answer a lot of questions," said Fasano, who is a member of the utilities committee. "I also think it's time for the governor to speak up."

Fasano said the Senate utilities committee chairman, Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said he would consider holding a hearing but was noncommittal. Gardiner is also the majority leader of the Senate.

Allison Aubuchon, a spokeswoman for Gardiner, said Fasano's request is being considered. Gardiner is looking at the possibility of having Progress make a presentation between now and the legislative session in the spring, she said.

"It's something that he will take under advisement," Aubuchon said. "The cost of energy is important to the leader."

Fasano's call for hearings follows reports in the St. Petersburg Times about Progress' botched maintenance and upgrade project at the Crystal River nuclear plant, known as CR3. The utility was replacing old steam generators at the plant.

In its reports, the Times showed how Progress decided to become the first utility in the nation to manage the steam generator replacement project itself.

Progress then hired two companies that had never previously performed the complex work required for the project.

In addition, the utility used a procedure that was different from that used at all of the 34 other steam generator replacement projects. All of them were successful.

During the project, the concrete nuclear reactor building cracked, a problem that had never happened at any other nuclear plant in the country. After workers repaired the first crack and were set to bring the plant back online, the building cracked again.

The plant has been offline for two years and is expected to remain out of service for at least two more.

The state Public Service Commission is reviewing how much if any of the charges related to the repair can be passed onto consumers.

Progress' insurer is reviewing whether the botched project is covered under the utility's insurance policy.

At the same time, Progress also is charging its 1.6 million Florida customers in advance for the proposed construction of another nuclear plant in Levy County. The two-reactor Levy County plant is expected to cost $20 billion.

Fasano said the utility needs to address the public about all of the problems with Crystal River and what is happening with Levy County before continuing to bill customers.

"All of that should be shut down and put on hold," Fasano said.

Ivan Penn can be reached at or (727) 892-2332. Follow him on Twitter at and find the Consumer's Edge on Facebook.

Fasano wants Progress to explain botched nuclear plant job 11/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 11, 2011 10:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus


    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park


    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers


    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]