By Dan Yurman
Uranium producers should not expect initial core orders from post-merger Duke Energy for any of the six 1,150 MW reactors planned by pre-merger Duke (NYSE:DUK) and Progress Energy, for at least the next decade—if ever.
It appears the nuclear renaissance is evaporating in the new utility’s service area like a chunk of dry ice on a hot summer day.
Just prior to the closing of the merger, Progress delayed the start of two new reactors at a greenfield site in Levy County, Florida, by three years to 2025. The cost of the units has spiraled into the stratosphere, now coming in at $19-24 billion which includes an “all in” cost of new transmission and distribution infrastructure.
Consumer groups and the Public Counsel of the Florida Public Service Commission are convinced the units will never be built and oppose any new rate increases under the state’s CWIP law to pay for licensing work.
Meanwhile, Duke is unlikely within the next decade or longer, or ever, to build two new reactors at Progress’s Harris site in North Carolina, stating that electricity demand in its market is far down from pre-recession levels. The future of the Lee plant is also a question since Duke has stated it is interested buying a 500-MW equity share in Scana’s new AP1000s in South Carolina.
Worse for Duke is that it is now the majority owner of the troubled Crystal River reactor, with its broken containment structure and expected repair costs of well over $1 billion. Those costs will now be borne by Duke’s shareholders.