Duke Energy has begun decommissioning its Crystal River Nuclear Plant in Florida after reaching an agreement Oct. 1 on a $540-million contract with contractor Accelerated Decommissioning Partners. The deal means that work to remove the plant is starting 50 years earlier than planned. The plant was damaged during construction in 2009 and has been out of service since then. Duke was going to wait until 2067 to take down the facility, but lower market prices in the nuclear decommissioning sector made it possible for the process to begin this year. The decommissioning should be complete by 2027 and will follow protocols set by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The process involves removing radioactive materials before demolition takes place. Accelerated Decommissioning Partners is a joint venture of NorthStar Group Services and Orano USA. The plant is part of the 5,100-acre Crystal River Energy Complex about 85 miles north of Tampa. Duke Energy retains ownership of the plant and expects its 1,000-acre site to be reduced to two acres in 2026 when a partial license termination is expected and only dry-cask storage of nuclear materials remains on site. The utility hasn’t decided how to use the rest of the land.

Read More: ENR 2020 Top Owners Full PDF (subscription required)