US nuclear “renaissance” collapses along with Westinghouse; Duke Energy has wasted 13 years and $529 million on hopes to build two reactors in SC
Today NC WARN called for state regulators to disallow any further spending by Duke Energy on two proposed reactors now that its 13-year odyssey is off the rails following the recent collapse of the Toshiba-Westinghouse nuclear division. Attempts to build “advanced passive” nuclear plants (the AP1000 design) led to billions in losses for that giant corporation, and its withdrawal from future construction projects leaves Duke Energy with no viable option for building its planned Lee Nuclear Station in Gaffney, SC.
In our filing with the NC Utilities Commission, we noted that after spending $529 million in development costs for Lee, Duke Energy has absolutely nothing to show except the threat of a big, fat rate hike for its customers to pay for the failed project.
Earlier, Duke Energy wasted over a billion in development costs for failed nuclear projects in Florida and North Carolina that were cancelled several years ago, then charged customers for those mistakes.
Globally, there are no companies left with the engineering or construction expertise, or the financial wherewithal to undertake construction of the Westinghouse AP1000 design. Westinghouse and other engineering and construction behemoths have run up billions in cost overruns and years of delay trying to build the AP1000 in Georgia and South Carolina, and completion of those projects is in grave doubt.
In October, Duke told regulators it would complete the two-reactor Lee Station in 2028.
Sadly, NC WARN and others were correct in 2005 by warning that a much-hyped nuclear “renaissance” would very likely squander precious years and money that should be spent on genuine climate-protection measures. During that time, the climate crisis has accelerated beyond expectations, while Duke Energy, the Koch brothers and other entrenched corporations have impeded the growth of renewables and energy-saving programs that could have largely decarbonized North Carolina by now.
We again call on Duke Energy executives to join those fighting to avert runaway climate chaos.