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Plan for New Nuclear Plant Dropped But Public Gets Fleeced $1.5 Billion

Duke Energy shelves plan for Levy County, Florida nuclear plant but customers aren't done paying for it

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Photo: Everglades Earth First!/cc/flickr In a blow to the so-called "nuclear renaissance," Duke Energy announced on Thursday it was shelving its plans for a nuclear power plant in Levy County, Florida. 

That's the good news.

Advocacy group Southern Alliance for Clean Energy states that cost estimates for the Levy plant were $5 billion in 2007 but later skyrocketed over 400 percent, while the start date listed in 2007 was for 2015-16, but got pushed back as late as 2025. 

But the corporation was able to push the financial risks of the nuclear power plant onto customers.

Customers have already shelled out $1.5 billion for the plant, the Associated Press reports, and, as an irate Robert Trigaux writes in a Tampa Bay Times column, "no, Florida customers, you're not getting any of that money back."

It gets worse, FlaglerLive reports, because customers are going to continue getting fleeced by the corporation for the plant:

[T]he News Service of Florida reports that an agreement that took effect this year will allow Duke to continue recovering some Levy-related money through 2017 — an amount that translates to $3.45 a month for a residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. In addition, customers will be required to pay as much as $1.466 billion over 20 years to cover continuing costs at the shuttered plant, such as costs related to making sure the building is safe and stable. But Rehwinkel, Glenn and Jon Moyle, an attorney for the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, said the agreement will require Duke to write down $295 million in costs — which essentially shifts responsibility for that amount from customers to company shareholders.

As the Tampa Bay Times reports, profits for Duke from the Levy project were never in doubt:

Last year, a Times report detailed how Duke would profit from the plant whether it got built or not. Duke would make a fixed percentage of whatever it spent on the project. So, the more it spent, the more it made – whether or not the plant got built.

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