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CWIP

CWIP, or Construction Work in Progress, is a law, fortunately existent only in a handful of U.S. states, that allows a utility to charge ratepayers higher rates to cover future costs of a yet-to-be-constructed reactor, even if that reactor is never built.

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Saturday
Aug032013

"Advocates, Ratepayers Oppose Paying for Vogtle’s Cost Overruns"

Southern Co. photo of the proposed new reactors construction site at Plant Vogtle -- a giant rat hole down which billions of dollars of ratepayer money are being pouredAs reported by the Atlanta Progressive News, Georgia ratepayers, as well as groups such as Georgia Women's Action for New Directions and Nuclear Watch South, have testified before the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) against billion dollar cost overruns at Southern Company's construction site for proposed new reactors from being foisted onto customers' electricity bills:

'..."Many of the cost overruns are the result of mismanagement.  The company has said less than one percent of the increases in costs are from engineering procurement and construction.  These costs are results from mismanagement in paperwork and scheduling delays," Courtney Hanson, Director of Public Outreach at Georgia Women's Action for New Directions (Georgia WAND), testified.

"Southern Company jumped the gun in seeking license for the whole project and the cost accrued because of design changes and license amendment requests.  They were not prepared when the process started and the cost reflects that.  This is a problem that happens over and over," John Michael, a ratepayer, testified.

"The cost overrun is not a new story and it is unfair for these cost overruns to be continually passed on to the ratepayers.  Last time [with Vogtle units one and two] we were promised four reactors for six hundred million dollars and we got two for over eight billion.  A company will never reduce costs if they continually have a blank check written to them," Amanda Hill-Attkisson, Managing Director of Georgia WAND, testified...

[Steve] Prenovitz, an expert in economics with Nuclear Watch South, challenged continuing the Vogtle project.  He raised the question over whether the public would be better served by cutting their losses on Vogtle before massive cost overruns in the future reach stratospheric numbers.'

Saturday
Aug032013

"Thank you, Tallahassee, for making us pay so much for nothing"

Tampa Bay Times Business Columnist, Robert Trigaux, has let Florida state legislators and the Public Service Commission have it "for passing a law forcing Duke Energy customers to pay up to $1.5 billion in higher rates for a long proposed nuclear power plant in Levy County that will not be built...And no, Florida customers, you're not getting any of that money back."

Trigaux continues "The real reason the witless sheep in Tally let this happen is that power companies wanted to shift both the cost and the risk of building a nuclear plant on to its customers and off of its shareholders...Nowhere in the country do you see big Wall Street firms or banks lending billions of dollars to electric utilities for nuclear plants. The risk is too high. The recent history of building nuclear plants is plagued with fantastic delays and enormous cost overruns."

His column is an excellent exposé on "advance fee recovery" or CWIP -- Construction Work in Progress -- which is illegal in most states. In Indiana in the 1980s, for example, Citizen Action Coalition successfully sued the Hoosier State's would-be nuclear utilities for making illegal CWIP charges on ratepayers' electricity bills. The court ruled the utilities had to return hundreds of millions of dollars to ratepayers. Two nuclear power plants, at Bailey and Marble Hill, were stopped dead in their tracks.

In 1976, Kay Drey -- now a Beyond Nuclear board member -- helped lead a statewide referendum making CWIP illegal in Missouri, a law, enacted through grassroots democracy at its best, that still stands. In Iowa, Mike Carberry, of Green State Solutions and Friends of the Earth, has helped lead an environmental/ratepayer coalition which has successfully fended off nuclear lobbyists at the state capital for several years, blocking legalization of nuclear CWIP.

But CWIP has been made legal in several southeastern states, thanks to nuclear industry lobbyists' sway over state legislators and governors' mansions there. Floridians have now learned the hard way why nuclear CWIP is a really bad idea. But Georgians and South Carolinians are beginning to learn the same hard lesson. Even Georgia's Republican governor has suggested that Southern Co. shareholders should eat some of the major, all-too-predictible cost escalations at Vogtle 3 & 4; South Carolinians have seen a half-dozen rate increases in just the past few years, all going towards keeping up with Summer 2 & 3's skyrocketing pricetag.

Thursday
Aug012013

SACE Statement on Duke Energy Florida’s Cancellation of Levy County Nuclear Reactor Project

Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, Director of Policy & Communications, 865.235.1448, jennifer@cleanenergy.org

St. Petersburg, Fla.///NEWS STATEMENT/// Duke Energy Florida (DEF) today filed a motion with the Florida Public Service Commission to approve a settlement agreement that will cancel its proposed Levy County nuclear reactor project.

The project’s estimated cost to build two Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors had skyrocketed by 400% to $24 billion from initial estimated costs of approximately $5 billion per reactor and the original in-service dates were delayed by at least eight years. The motion was filed in the annual nuclear cost recovery clause docket – which is set to begin Monday - that considers approval of costs related to proposed new nuclear generation and determines the reasonableness of projected costs.
 

According to Florida Public Service Commission staff testimony in this year’s docket, “As of December 31, 2012, DEF has spent approximately $962 million on the Levy project including AFUDC” (Allowance for Funds Used During Construction). Duke has not yet recovered this entire amount from the Commission. Hearings on the 2013 docket for Duke and FPL, which is also pursuing two new nuclear reactors at their existing Turkey Point plant near Miami, are scheduled to begin next week.

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, issued this statement about today’s decision to cancel the proposed Levy County nuclear reactor project:
 

“We welcome Duke Energy’s announcement today that they are seeking approval to cancel the controversial Levy County nuclear reactor project.  Since the merger, Duke’s leadership has taken a fresh look at these unnecessary nuclear projects and has absolutely made the right decision for Florida consumers.

While important details are still being resolved, Florida consumers should rejoice in knowing that the fleecing associated with this nuclear project will end. The time has come to stop throwing good money after bad.

SACE has long opposed this project and the nuclear tax recovery mechanisms that have been associated with it. SACE supports the need for Duke and FPL to have exit plans for these unnecessary reactors, however, we must stay vigilant in protecting consumers as the projects wind down.

The FL PSC has been negligent in its protection of Florida ratepayers and as these projects are cancelled, the Commission must stand strong in defense of consumers. But we also must ensure that the utilities do not continue to pursue high-risk, unnecessary projects as if there were no viable exit strategy.”

Join us for a media availability call tomorrow, Friday, August 2 at 11:00 a.m. EDT to speak with SACE experts on this case and today’s decision.

WHEN: Friday, August 2, 11:00 a.m. EDT

 

WHO:

Dr. Stephen Smith, Executive Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

George Cavros, Florida Energy Policy Attorney, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Sara Barczak, High Risk Energy Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

 

WHERE: Conference Dial-in Number: (605) 475-4000; Participant Access Code: 663387#

# # #

Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org

Thursday
Aug012013

Environmental interveners respond to Duke's cancellation of proposed new reactors at Levy County, FL

Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Diane Curran, represented environmental interveners NIRS and Ecology Party of Florida against the now-cancelled proposed new reactors at Levy Co., FLThe Ecology Party of Florida and NIRS, environmental interveners against Duke/Progress Energy's proposed new reactors at Levy County, FL, have responded to the announced cancellation:

The Ecology Party of Florida could not be happier that the proposed nuclear plant scheduled for construction in Levy County, Florida (LNP), has been cancelled by Duke Energy, which acquired Progress Energy Florida (PEF), the LNP applicant.  The Ecology Party, along with Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) waged a five-year battle within the confines of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s  (NRC) rigged system, challenging the construction of the plant. The challenge was based primarily on the fact that the water modeling used was unsuited for the karst geology at the site and that in combination with other mining projects in the area, including the nearby proposed King Road Tarmac mine which would have supplied materials for the plant. Due to this failing, the proposed LNP  would have irreparably harmed the aquifer, source of drinking water for the area. Dewatering the area further than it already has been would have resulted in impacts far more serious and far-reaching than those alleged by Progress and the NRC Staff.  The two groups presented evidence that any predictions in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were inadequate and that the destructive consequences of withdrawing millions of gallons of water from the aquifer each day, as well as drawing all fresh water from the abandoned Cross Florida Barge Canal and its estuary in the Gulf had been grossly underestimated.

The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) had not yet issued the necessary permit for the destruction of wetlands at the site and the Ecology Party, its members, and Hydroecologist Dr. Sydney Bacchus, primary expert for the Ecology Party, have been extremely active in opposing the project in the Corps' process. We believe our opposition and the compelling evidence we've submitted has had a bearing on the decision.

In response to news of the abandoned LNP project, Dr. Bacchus's reaction was, "This is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when the public refuses to accept false and inaccurate information fed to agencies by consultants and instead fights to have the truth exposed. I hope this will serve as a role model for future grass-root battles."

Diane Curran [photo, above left], who represented the Ecology Party and NIRS said, “It is great news for the environment that PEF apparently thinks Levy would be an economic disaster.  It would have been an even bigger disaster for the fragile wetlands where PEF wanted to build the reactors.”

Cara Campbell, Chair of the Ecology Party, pointed out, “The cost of this debacle had risen from 4 Billion dollars to 25 Billion. How much were the ratepayers of Florida expected to take?”

"The people, animals, plants and waters of the Nature Coast are figuratively sighing with relief that an area of recreation and sanctuary, the Nature Coast, will be nuclear-free!" said Mary Olson of Nuclear Information and Resource Service who supported efforts by Florida activists to intervene in the proposed Levy County 1 & 2 nuclear license.

Michael Mariotte, Executive Director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), added:

"The nuclear renaissance is in shambles. Earlier this week, the world's largest nuclear company, Electricite De France, announced it is leaving the U.S. nuclear market having failed to build any of the reactors it was planning. Now Duke Energy is giving up on the most expensive nuclear project ever proposed--and the only "greenfields" site in the supposed nuclear revival. The basic truths about nuclear power outweigh the fantasies of nuclear boosters: it remains too dirty, dangerous and expensive to be a viable source of new electricity."

Thursday
Aug012013

Cooper: Duke abandonment of Levy reactors fits into 2013 pattern of "rapid-fire downsizing" of nuclear power in U.S.

Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the EnvironmentEnergy economist Mark Cooper at Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment has issued a media statement in response to Duke/Progess's announced abandonment of its proposal to build two new atomic reactors at Levy County, Florida.

Cooper's statement begins:

"The announcement by Duke that it is abandoning the Levy reactor project in Florida is the second such announcement by that utility in the space of just a few weeks. The Duke decision to pull the plug on Levy follows by just one day the announcement that the French-subsidized nuclear giant EDF is pulling out of the U.S. nuclear power market due to the inability of nuclear power to compete with alternatives and the dramatic reduction in demand growth caused by increasing efficiency of electricity consuming devices. Exelon, with the largest U.S. nuclear fleet, recently purchased the nuclear assets of Constellation in an effort to achieve synergies (i.e. lower the operating costs) of its nuclear assets. Entergy, the second largest nuclear operator, has reorganized its nuclear assets and is slashing staffing..."

On July 17th, Cooper published a report, "Renaissance in Reverse," documenting the likelihood that up to 38 atomic reactors nationwide would "retire early," before the expiration of their operating licenses, including a dozen at risk of near-term permanent shutdown, due to an array of economic, operational, and safety factors.

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