As the US nuclear “renaissance” collapses, we urge CEOs to turn hard toward climate protection
Duke Energy executives invested 12 years and more than a half-billion public dollars hoping to build two nuclear plants at the Lee Nuclear Station in northern South Carolina.
The project’s cancellation validates the concerns first aired in 2005 – by NC WARN and many allies – that the nuclear “renaissance” would waste precious time and resources that should have gone toward proven measures that would slow the climate crisis.
Duke Energy’s abandonment of the Lee plant, which would have served both Carolinas, follows earlier Duke cancellations of new nuclear projects in Wake County, NC and Levy County, Florida.
All those mistakes are costing customers millions or billions of wasted dollars based on attempts to build two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors per site, the same as at SCE&G’s VC Summer project. VC Summer was cancelled this month after five years of construction, bogged down by massive cost overruns and a soaring price tag, with customers stuck paying many billions for nothing.
It’s only a matter of time until construction of the AP1000 at Georgia’s Vogtle project is cancelled too; latest cost estimate by Southern Company, $25 billion, twice the original price tag.
We commend all the advocacy organizations and activists, along with the technical and regulatory experts, who began working together many years ago to challenge the Westinghouse reactor design and the construction projects, and especially those who have kept the pressure on federal and state regulators all this time.*
It was clear from before construction began at Summer or Vogtle that federal regulators were allowing Westinghouse and the utilities to cut corners on design issues, as detailed in a 2012 lawsuit filed by nine organizations. That corporate-government arrogance goes to the heart of the cost overruns dooming all those construction projects.
And it’s directly related to southeastern electricity customers getting stuck paying for the nuclear collapse. Because the industry knew building nukes is high-risk, they got state “leaders” to let them force captive monopoly customers to pay for the nuclear boondoggles along the way and even if they fail.
We’re glad Duke Energy is cutting the losses even though it will attempt to stick the public with the bill. We strongly urge CEO Lynn Good to finally turn all efforts toward actually going green – instead of merely claiming to do so – thus aligning Duke Energy’s interests with those of all humanity at this late hour in the fight to slow the climate crisis.
The decision to cancel the Lee project came alongside Duke Energy Carolina’s announcement of yet another giant rate increase – the anchor of the monopoly business model – which NC WARN plans to challenge.
* The links above go to NC WARN web items, from which you can see more from our great allies.