By John Murawski
When Progress Energy applied for a rate increase last fall, the request didn’t include $70 million the Raleigh electric utility had spent on a planned addition of two reactors at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in Wake County.
But Duke Energy, which acquired Progress last summer, plans to recover those costs and pass them on to customers, Duke CEO Jim Rogers told investors Friday.
Rogers revealed the company’s intentions a day after Charlotte-based Duke announced it is canceling the Shearon Harris expansion.
Notwithstanding the Progress-Duke merger, the Shearon Harris costs would be paid only by customers of the Progress subsidiary, now called Duke Energy Progress, which operates independently of the Duke subsidiary.
Progress spokesman Jeff Brooks said it’s not clear when the company will ask the N.C. Utilities Commission and South Carolina regulators to include the Shearon Harris costs in rates.
“We’re going to explore the option of how to recover those costs but we do have the intention of recovering those costs in the fairest possible way from our customers,” Brooks said.
The planned cost recovery is likely to be challenged by critics who tried to block the Shearon Harris nuclear expansion and have fought recent rate-hike requests, said Jim Warren, director of Durham anti-nuclear group NC WARN.
“Especially when Duke-Progress are jacking up rates, taking down seven figure salaries,” Warren said. “Duke’s pushing the limits of public toleration.”