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Posts Tagged ‘Progress Energy’


Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

March 3, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers says American business has lost its way and that nuclear power will be a key element in getting its "mojo" back.
“As we wait for Washington to break its gridlock and deflate its deficit bubble, we need to continue to modernize our power infrastructure and build more efficient sources of generation. One of the keys to moving forward is new nuclear power,” Rogers told the annual meeting of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. “Nuclear is expensive in the short term, but actually low-cost in the long term. We know this well in the Carolinas because nuclear provides half of our generation. It’s a large part of the reason why our electricity rates are so much lower than the national average.”
Rogers noted that excessive real estate speculation and the failure to curb leveraging on Wall Street had led to the financial crisis, but at a deeper level American business has “lost its sense of purpose.”  “We need to refocus now on values, on significance. Wealth for wealth’s sake is meaningless. Just as getting big simply to get large is misguided, and sometimes tragic. This reorientation is purpose-driven capitalism.”
Duke recently merged with Progress Energy to form the third largest utility in the nation with the third largest nuclear fleet. One of the major reasons cited for the merger was the improved ability to undertake the $8-10 billion investment required for a new reactor. Progress submitted license applications for reactors at the Lew Country, Florida and Shearon Harris sites in North Carolina, while Duke has a proposal for the William States Lee III site in South Carolina. All three proposals are for the Westinghouse AP1000, a design not yet approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Read more at the Charlotte Observer



Monday, September 20th, 2010

To anybody surveying the landscape of nuclear energy right now, it’s becoming more and more obvious that small modular reactors are quickly emerging as a viable and necessary option.

With Progress Energy effectively suspending their reactor initiative last week and with many "First Mover" projects grinding along, it seems plausible that building a full-scale U.S. reactor could be a 10-year, $10-billion undertaking unless the current paradigm changes.

Having licensed designs on the shelf will help; however, few American utilities may willing to run this triathlon without carbon pricing in an projected era of sustained low natural gas prices.  Small reactors, however, could offer a different dynamic if developers are able to consummate their designs and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission responds accordingly.

Last week the good news was that Hyperion, the New Mexico company and leading mini-SMR pioneer, signed a memorandum of agreement with the Savannah River National Laboratory to explore the possibility of building a demonstration reactor on the site.

This week the good news is that the project is finding favorable review in South Carolina. In a column in "The State", business columnist Andrew Shain expresses enthusiasm for Hyperion’s business-like attitudes. “Hyperion impressed Savannah River National Solutions officials because the company came showing the technology first instead of asking for money,” reports Shain. 

“They were not looking for a hand out from us or the government,” Pete Knollmeyer, vice president of strategic planning at Savannah River National Solutions, tells Shain.

Comments from South Carolina readers are what you’d hope to hear:  “Sounds like a Common Sense idea that should have been explored a long time ago.”  “The Navy has been running ships the size of cities for years with small nukes.” 

It’s good to hear so much hope outside-the-beltway when sometimes there is so little inside.

Read more at The State


Friday, September 17th, 2010

Progress Energy of North Carolina has been in the forefront of the Nuclear Renaissance for several years with plans to build two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at its Shearon Harris site.
This week, however, Progress told the North Carolina utilities commission that the two reactors may not be necessary. Instead the company might take a partial stake in the construction of one reactor at Shearon Harris or perhaps buy into a reactor at another location.
"This is by no means an about-face on our nuclear strategy," Progress representative Mike Hughes told the Raleigh News & Observer. "Based on what we know right now, this is our best estimate on what nuclear will be added and when."

The challenge is slumping demand. Electrical use has been flat during the current recession and doesn’t give any indication of picking up. Whereas Progress projected it would need an additional 2000 MW by 2020, it now believes it will need only 550 MW. Progress has foresworn building any new coal plants but announced earlier this month it will build a 950-MW combined cycle natural gas plant to replace a 59-year-old 397-MW coal plant.
The company has always been concerned with the prospect of investing up to $10 billion in a single reactor project that might take a decade to finish. Taking a partial stake with other utilities would reduce the risk. Progress’s decision also suggests that small modular reactors that allow utilities to build in bite-sized increments could be alluring.

Read more at the News Observer


Friday, July 30th, 2010

There’s good news and bad news from Florida’s Progress Energy.

The bad news is that the gap in the wall of the concrete containment structure at its Crystal River reactor will take at least another two months to repair. The good news is that the separation occurred during stress created by cutting a hole in the containment and NOT because of deterioration during normal operations.

The issue surfaced at Crystal River last September when Progress decided to upgrade the plant from 838 MW to 850 MW by installing two larger turbines. This required cutting 25-by-27-foot hole in the steel-and-concrete containment structure, since the turbines were too big to fit through the existing equipment hatch. When the cutting began, however, however, a two-inch separation was found in the 42-inch-thick wall. The reactor has been shut down ever since and is not expected to restart until late September.

The initial concern was that the separation had already occurred during normal operations as a result of shrinkage or settlement, chemical or environmental stress, or some other unknown cause. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission feared the same thing might be occurring at other reactors. After an extensive investigation, however, Progress and the NRC have determined that the separation occurred because of unique stresses created during the Crystal River operation. Other utilities have cut through their containment structures 26 times without encountering separation problems.

The year-long outage has cost Progress $25 million in repairs and forced it to pay another $95 million for replacement power. Demand has been 5 percent higher than previous years during the shutdown period. Located 50 miles north of Tampa, Crystal River provides 20 percent of Progress’s output. The utility said it would try to recover some of its costs from insurance and contractors in order to minimize the impact on ratepayers.


Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Progress Energy’s recent decision to proceed with the Levy project – two AP1000 reactors on a single site – has set off a debate in the pages of the Tampa Tribune.

The utility has already lost a bid to have the estimated $13 billion construction costs incorporated into its rate base during construction of the project. Still hopeful that it can win a federal loan guarantee, Progress has said it will slow preliminary construction on the site but continue its license application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Tribune business columnist Robert Trigaux takes exception to all this. Citing far-out estimates that costs could rise to $22 billion, he predicts a return to the 1980s when reactors came in at three times their original estimates, and says it’s time to rethink the project.

What’s interesting is the reader response. In these times when wisdom is not necessarily concentrated in newspaper editorial offices but distributed throughout the population, the general response seems to be that Florida needs the electricity and nuclear will ultimately be cheaper and cleaner. Except for one latter-day Lenin who says that a Worker’s Party is the key to powering Florida, it’s a pretty level-headed response.

Read more at Tampa Tribune

William Tucker