Federal judge lowers fees, interest payments in Duke nuclear case

Dive Brief:

  • Duke Energy does not have to pay Westinghouse Electric Corp. the full $352 million for development of a canceled nuclear reactor, a federal judge in North Carolina ruled last week, though it does have to pay fees and interest for tossing the plan. 
  • According to the Charlotte Business Journal, a ruling last month in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina means Duke will pay just $34 million in a termination fee and interest for scuttling the Levy County, Florida project two years ago.
  • Though Duke has indicated it does not intend to construct it along the original schedule, the company has continued to pursue a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Dive Insight:

According to Charlotte Business Journal, Westinghouse sued for costs incurred in developing an AP1000 reactor for the plant, similar to those being used at other facilities and also being considered at Duke's Lee County plant in South Carolina.

While Duke hasn't made a final decision on either pant, the utility received a license in December from the NRC for the South Carolina plant. Earlier in 2016, NRC staff completed a final safety evaluation for licenses at two Florida reactors, setting off concern among project opponents who thought it was long dead. The original proposal included two 1,100-MW reactors. 

"My understanding was it was over, it was gone, it was dead, that they had no intention of building those nuclear power plants," said state Rep. Mike Fasano (R) of the news. He was a critic of the project, and said "I just assumed they would no longer proceed with getting a license."

Duke at the time of its announcement said that the Levy site was no longer an option "within the originally scheduled timeframe," but added the utility "continues to regard the Levy site as a viable option for future nuclear generation and understands the importance of fuel diversity in creating a sustainable energy future."

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