Despite potential cancellation, Florida ratepayers may still have to pay for billion dollar CWIP boondoggle!
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, Progess Energy has announced an indefinite suspension of the construction plans for two Toshiba-Westinghouse so-called "Advanced Passive 1000" (AP1000) atomic reactors targeted at the greenfield (no old reactors already there) site at Levy, Florida. That's the good news. The bad news is that Florida ratepayers are nonetheless locked into paying "advance" charges for the new reactors on their electricity bills month after month for years to come, even though the reactors may never get built. Such "Construction Work in Progress" charges are illegal in most states, although have been made legal in such states as Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia in an effort to grease the skids for new atomic reactor proposals, at ratepayer expense.
By the end of last year, Progress Energy's 1.6 million Florida ratepayers had already made $545 million in "advance" payments on their electricity bills toward the Levy new reactors, or an average of about $340 per person. Progress Energy fully intends to extract yet another $555 million from its ratepayers in the years ahead, or another $350 per person, whether or not the reactors actually get built and fired up.
The Levy new reactors have been a case study in cost overruns. As the article reports, Progress Energy first estimated in 2006 that a single AP1000 would cost as little as $4 billion. The very next year, the projected price tag had jumped to $10 billion per reactor. A year after that, Progress added a second new reactor to the proposal, and estimated the cost at a total of $17 billion. But last year, the price projection had reached $22 billion for the twin AP1000s.
The project has also been a case study in schedule delays. In 2006, Progress said its new reactor would fire up in 2016. By 2009, Progress admitted the opening date had slipped two years into the future, to 2018. By 2010, the opening date had retreated yet further, to 2021. Progress is now admitting that the project won't open till 2027, if at all.
Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer at Fairewinds Associates in Vermont and expert witness for an environmental coalition opposed to new AP1000s targeted throughout the Southeast, was quoted as saying "It's a dramatic strategy change (by Progress)...Now, it looks like they're retreating." Gundersen has identified a major safety flaw in the AP1000's supposedly "advanced, passive" design, which could actively pump hazardous radioactivity into the environment during an accident (see graphic, above).