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Florida Levy reactors: more delays and rising costs

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Progress Energy has announced that it has postponed major construction activities at the proposed Levy nuclear power plant in Florida until it has received a licence for the plant.

At the same time, the estimated cost for the project has increased by up to US$5 billion to an estimated total of US$22,5 billion for two Westinghouse AP1000 (both 1105 MWe). Remember, actual construction has not even started and a license is now expected not before late 2012.

The company said that it has delayed work for several reasons, including: the need to reduce capital spending to avoid short term rate increases; a recent downgrading to Progress Energy Florida's credit ratings; a delay in the licensing timeline; the current economic climate; and continued uncertainty about federal and state energy policies, including carbon regulation.

Levy units 1 and 2 - both Westinghouse AP1000 reactor units - were originally expected to begin operating in 2016 and 2017, respectively. However, in May 2009, Progress announced a schedule change for the project after regulators ruled that no excavation may take place ahead of full permission to build. Commercial operation of the two 1105 MWe reactors were pushed back by "a minimum of 20 months."

Rising costs
The company has filed nuclear cost for 2010 and projected costs for 2011 with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). These include costs for the proposed Levy plant and an uprate project at unit 3 of its existing Crystal River plant. For 2011, the company is seeking to recover US$164 million in nuclear costs. If the PSC approves Progress' 2011 nuclear cost estimates as filed, the company estimates the average residential customer would pay US$5.53 per month on a 1000 kilowatt-hour bill (US$4.99 for Levy and 54 cents for Crystal River) beginning with January 2011 bills. That is 21% lower than the US$6.99 per month customers currently pay (US$6.78 for Levy and 21 cents for Crystal River).

Meanwhile, Progress said that its current estimate for the cost of the proposed Levy plant is between US$17.2 billion and US$22.5 billion. This cost includes land, transmission lines, fuel and financing costs. The company had previously put the estimated cost as up to US$17.2 billion.

Progress says that, according to the current schedule, it expects the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to issue the combined construction and operating licence (COL) for Levy in late 2012.

Source: World Nuclear news, 7 May 2010
Contact: NIRS