Florida utility delays nuke, asks for rate hike

Florida is already experiencing a likely future for the new Plant Vogtle nukes in Georgia: completion date pushed back, and customer charges raised.

Fred Hiers wrote for Gainesville.com 1 May 2012, Progress asks for nuke fee hike,

Progress Energy announced Tuesday that it is hiking the estimated cost of its proposed Levy County nuclear plant and pushing the plant’s completion date back to 2024.

Progress Energy also said it plans to ask Florida regulators to increase customers’ bills to upgrade Progress’ damaged Crystal River nuclear plant.

Progress said in a press release that the new cost of the plant could be as high as $24 billion. The previous estimate was about $2 billion less. The plant was originally slated to go online in 2016, but that deadline continues to get pushed back.

2016 to 2024? An eight year delay? And from $22 billion to $24 billion, or 9% more? It looks like Progress Energy has started down the path of many $billion cost overruns that The Southern Company and Georgia Power already went down 30 years ago and have already started back down again. Georgia Power customers: don’t be surprised if your rates go up more for nukes that get pushed still farther into the future.

Meanwhile, by John Hanger’s estimates, an extra $1 billion would buy about 450 MW of wind power or about 330 MW of solar power. So that $2 billion expected cost rise would buy about 900 MW of wind or 660 MW of solar. And the total $24 billion price tag would buy about 10,800 MW of wind or about 7,920 MW of solar power.

Meanwhile, according to Reuters 15 July 2008, the Levy County plant is supposed to be for

“two of Toshiba Corp’s (6502.T) Westinghouse 1,100 MW AP1000 reactors”

That would be 2,200 MW total. I suppose PGN could argue that the sun doesn’t shine all the time nor the wind blow, so you can’t say you’d get 10,800 MW of wind or 7,920 MW of solar power all the time. But you do get solar power during the day when most power is needed, and offshore wind blows most of the time. And when you get factors like 3.6 times more MW from solar or 5 times from wind, you have to start to wonder whether something like building a bunch of tanks to pump water up during the day for power generation during the night might be a better bet than an ever-more-costly and ever-receding nuclear plant.