Statement by Executive Director Jim Warren:
Durham, NC – Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers testified on July 10th that he plans to “pour money” into improving years of substandard performance at Progress Energy’s nuclear plants, a task that could total billions of dollars – and which would come on top of billions being lost at the crippled Crystal River nuclear plant.
Today NC WARN attorney John Runkle formally petitioned Duke to deliver all relevant documents involving those planned expenses. We also are seeking all documents relating to plans for Crystal River, including the secret study Duke commissioned and delivered to its board of directors on June 25th.
We are filing this discovery request under the original merger docket, which remains open. Doing so will preserve our legal options with the Commission and preserve our right to appeal the Duke-Progress merger in the state court of appeals.
Duke will certainly seek to charge ratepayers for all upgrades at the four Carolinas plants, thus the planned expenditures could far exceed the merger’s purported savings to the public of $650 million over five years. Crystal River expenses could also impact NC ratepayers by driving up Duke-Progress borrowing costs, and because lack of profits from Florida operations could force the two Carolinas subsidiaries to contribute more to the Duke Energy holding company.
As noted in earlier filings, we anticipate that Duke has likely budgeted hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars to complete Rogers’ pledge to improve operational and safety deficiencies at Progress’ four reactors in the Carolinas.
We firmly believe such large, planned expenditures at Crystal River and for the Carolinas nuclear fleet should have been disclosed and fully discussed during the merger proceeding.
Increasingly, it seems clear that the Commission will need to reopen evidentiary hearings to allow a full examination of how those costs impact the purported “net public savings” in the merger – which is the primary legal standard by which the merger must stand or fall.