Friday, January 19, 2018
Business

Secret study said to paint grim picture of prospects for Progress' broken nuclear plant

A secret study of the broken Crystal River nuclear plant by Progress Energy's merger partner, Duke Energy, paints a more dismal picture of the plant's troubles than previously told, a watchdog group reported Friday.

The group, NC WARN, an organization that represents environmental issues and consumers before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, said Duke's board commissioned the study in the course of the planned merger with Progress.

Jim Warren, director of NC WARN, said he learned about the study from an unnamed source. Warren then issued a statement to the media Friday about the study, stating "most likely, its recommendations will be inconsistent with Progress' assumptions on the viability, cost and duration of repair."

The study is expected to be presented to Duke's full board over the next few days, his release said, adding that there are indications "that some Duke shareholders — possibly including members of the board — are pushing to get out of the merger deal, or to force a change of terms.''

The report comes as the North Carolina Utilities Commission considers whether to approve the merger — one of the final hurdles before the deal can close.

Duke issued a statement in response to NC WARN, saying, "Duke Energy continues to follow the Crystal River status while Progress evaluates its technical options (and) … we continue to work toward the regulatory approvals and target closing the Progress merger July 1."

Progress declined to comment about the study beyond Duke's statement.

The Crystal River nuclear plant has sat idle since fall 2009, when Progress took it offline for an upgrade and maintenance project, during which workers replaced old steam generators.

As workers cut into the 42-inch-thick concrete containment that houses the nuclear reactor to remove the generators, the building cracked. An attempt to repair the first crack resulted in another crack.

Progress estimates that it will cost as much as $1.3 billion to fix the building and more than $1 billion to buy alternative electricity while it remains offline. The utility spent more than $500 million on the first repair.

Mike Hughes, a Progress spokesman, said the utility picked San Francisco-based URS, an engineering, construction and technical services organization, as the preferred vendor for the work at Crystal River if the decision is to repair it.

Warren said his organization's concern is what impact the broken Crystal River plant could have on ratepayers not only in Florida but in the Carolinas. In addition, Progress also wants to build a $24 billion nuclear plant in Levy County that he said he fears could harm all ratepayers.

Progress and Duke, Warren said, have not been completely transparent about their plans, which he intends to bring up during hearings with the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

"It's also going to go to all this confidentiality and secret deals going on," Warren said.

The Florida Public Service Commission was not aware of the Duke study, spokeswoman Cindy Muir said. The commission has a status update on Crystal River on Aug. 13.

Ivan Penn can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2332.

Comments
Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation planners are set to unveil a new transit vision for Tampa Bay leaders on Friday morning: Bus rapid transit. Also known as BRT, it has arisen as the leading option in an ongoing study to find the best regional tr...
Updated: 2 hours ago
House approves government spending bill

House approves government spending bill

A divided House on Thursday passed an 11-hour plan to keep the government running. But the GOP-written measure faced gloomy prospects in the Senate, and it remained unclear whether lawmakers would be able to find a way to keep federal offices open pa...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Will the third time be the charm for these Tampa Bay townhouses?

Will the third time be the charm for these Tampa Bay townhouses?

ST. PETERSBURG — In real estate circles, it would seem an odd match — 54 townhouses in an office park and a group of Realtors best known for selling luxury single-family homes in Snell Isle. Yet the Strickland Property Group is convinced it can do wh...
Published: 01/19/18
Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.Members of the business community, elected officials and executives with Metro Development Group and Crystal L...
Published: 01/18/18

Consumer agency to spend rainy day funds

NEW YORK — The Trump-appointed acting director of the federal government’s consumer watchdog agency requested zero dollars of funding for its second-quarter budget, saying he intends to first spend down the agency’s rainy day fund. In a letter to the...
Published: 01/18/18
Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

To no one’s surprise, Amazon on Thursday released its list of location finalists for its second headquarters, and neither Tampa nor St. Petersburg was on it."We knew it was going to be a long shot and a difficult road," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said....
Published: 01/18/18

Deal clears way for Oldsmar townhomes

OLDSMAR — The City Council voted 4-1 last month in favor of approving a development agreement for a 50-unit townhome community on a nearly 4-acre parcel on St. Petersburg Drive. According to the terms of the agreement, Oldsmar Towns LLC will build a ...
Published: 01/18/18
Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

If there’s one word to describe the buyers of Tampa Bay’s 25 priciest homes in 2017 it’s this: eclectic. As in previous years, the group included doctors, lawyers and professional sports figures — three of the homes were purc...
Published: 01/18/18
Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

When Vision ACE Hardware opened in Oldsmar last November, the very first customer came in looking for a light bulb that he couldn’t find anywhere else."We had that lightbulb," said Stone Ackroyd, marketing manager. "That’s what ACE does. We have thos...
Published: 01/18/18
Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

LUTZ — Mellow Mushroom opened the doors to its new location this week in Wesley Chapel.This is the third location for owner Rob Johnson, who opened the Mellow Mushroom in Brandon 12 years ago, and then expanded to Clearwater.Johnson began looking at ...
Published: 01/18/18