After spending more than $1.5 billion for construction and operating licenses for four new AP1000 nuclear plants in Florida and North Carolina, Duke Energy announced it will end activity on those plants and, at least in Florida, will pursue more solar power.
Duke said it was canceling the Lee Nuclear project in North Carolina because of Westinghouse Electric’s bankruptcy. “Most notably, risks and uncertainties to initiating construction on the Lee Nuclear project have become too great,” Duke said in an Aug. 25 news release.
Cost overruns on the Westinghouse-designed AP1000 led to the cancellation of the partially built V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina and uncertainty around the still-under-construction Vogtle plant in Georgia.
Duke’s proposals must be approved by the state’s respective utility commissions, but in Florida, consumer, industrial and environmental groups already have agreed to Duke’s plans, which include the acceleration of construction of 700 megawatts of solar power. The company will build one or two 75-MW solar plants a year for the next four years at a cost of about $1.1 billion, a Duke spokeswoman says.
Further, Duke Florida says it will invest $1.2 billion in grid modernization, including undergrounding lines and hardening distribution systems, $2.5 billion on transmission- and distribution-line improvements, and $700,000 million on batteries and electric-vehicle charging stations.
The agreement calls for Duke to absorb $150 million in remaining costs for the Levy nuclear project. Customers already have paid $800 million for preliminary planning and regulatory work on the plant, originally proposed by Duke’s predecessor, Progress Energy.
In 2013, Duke, which took over Progress, canceled an engineering, procurement and construction contract with the Shaw Group, although it did secure a COL from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in October 2016. In North Carolina, Duke received a COL for its proposed Lee Nuclear generating station in December 2016.