Proposed Levy nuclear plant could have joint owners

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By Pat Faherty

Special to the Citizen

When its retirement came, the Crystal River nuclear plant had 10 owners, with Duke Energy the majority holder. A similar arrangement could be used for the planned Levy County nuclear plant.

Having a share of the Crystal River nuclear plant, even as small as the .04 percent owned by the city of Bushnell, carried an obligation to maintain a decommissioning trust fund, according to the participation agreement.

Just as multiple smaller partners were included in the ownership of CR3, as the now-closed nuclear plant is known, a similar joint ownership has been considered for the Levy plant. That project has an estimated cost of between $19 billion and $24 billion and has a tentative in-service date of 2024 for the first unit, with the second unit following 18 months later.

Early in planning for the proposed Levy plant, Progress Energy Florida estimated decommissioning costs at $747 million. 

In April 2011, Progress Energy provided an update to entities that had expressed continued interest in joint ownership of the Levy County plant, according to a report filed with the Public Service Commission. These entities were not publicly identified. 

Progress acknowledged at the time that, while the interest in joint ownership exists, there had been no joint ownership commitments because of the effects of economic recession, NRC licensing delays and uncertainly with respect to project cost and timing. Progress also blamed federal and state energy and environmental policies.

The company did plan additional meetings with potential joint owners.

Duke Energy, which recent took over Progress, continues to believe that joint ownership in the Levy nuclear plant provides Duke Energy and its customers the benefits of sharing the costs and risks of the Levy project with other potential joint owners, explained Duke spokesperson Heather Danenhower.

“While Duke Energy has pursued joint ownership opportunities, the shift in the project schedule has delayed significant talks with potential joint owners until later in 2014,” she said. “Until those more detailed discussions occur, Duke Energy cannot speculate on whether potential joint-owners would have similar decommissioning funding responsibilities.”