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Progress Energy says Citrus County nuke plant to come back online by end of March

Progress Energy Florida plans to reopen its Citrus County nuclear plant within the first quarter of this year after shuttering the facility since 2009 for repairs.

Workers this week began tightening tendons in a repaired section of a containment wall on the 838-megawatt Crystal River nuclear plant.

The utility does not have a specific date set for completion of the project, though news reports this week stated the project would be finished in March.

Mike Hughes, a Progress Energy spokesman, said the utility expects to finish repairs and bring the plant back online in the first quarter, but exact timing remains unclear.

"It is a very detailed and comprehensive repair plan, and we're committed to doing it right," Hughes said. "With the project of this size, with much of the work being outdoor work, clearly weather can always be a factor in the schedule. We are approaching the scope of this repair with a conservative eye."

The utility shut down the plant in September 2009 to refuel and replace giant steam generators. During that process, which was supposed to take about three months, workers found a gap in the 42-inch-thick building containment wall.

Progress has been working to repair the building since the plant went offline, spending about $250 million so far to fix it and delaying the reopening of the facility again and again.

Crystal River is Progress Energy Florida's sole nuclear plant.

The utility is working to open a second nuclear facility in Levy County. The $17 billion plant would sit on a 5,000-acre site 4 miles north of the nearest town, Inglis.

The Levy County plant was projected to start producing power in 2016, but Progress Energy announced a 20-month delay in its plans to at least March 2018. Progress Energy collects fees from its customers to cover costs of the future plant.

Bill Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network, has been pushing the state to stop the fees for the nuclear plant because he and others question whether it will actually materialize.

Progress Energy says Citrus County nuke plant to come back online by end of March 01/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 10:35pm]
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