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Duke to retire CR3 

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By PAT FAHERTY

Special to the Citizen

Facing costly lengthy repairs, Duke Energy — parent company of Progress Energy Florida — has announced it will retire the Crystal River nuclear plant.

Retirement raises issues of job loss, reduced tax revenue, customer electricity bills, storing spent nuclear fuel, replacement power, the fate of related facilities, environmental and regulatory issues.

The plant known as CR3 has been shutdown and since 2009, predating the Progress-Duke merger. It currently has approximately 600 full-time employees, 200 long-term contract workers and another 400 short-term contract workers associated with the plant.

The company’s four coal plants, which employ about 300, will continue to operate at the energy complex. Two of those plants, however, are scheduled to be phased out in the near future.

Fixing CR3 could have cost $1.49 billion to $3.43 billion with a timeframe of 31 to 96 months. The project was described as “technically feasible,” but with “significant risks.”  Plus, it would have had to have been relicensed in 2016 — not a certainty, according to Jim Rogers, Duke chairman, president and CEO.

“We believe the decision to retire the nuclear plant is in the best overall interests of our customers, investors, the state of Florida and our company,” Rogers said in a news release. “This has been an arduous process of modeling, engineering, analysis and evaluation over many months. The decision was very difficult, but it is the right choice.”