ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Duke Energy is scuttling plans to build a nuclear power facility in Florida, a state representative said Thursday.
Rep. Mike Fasano, R-Pasco County, said Duke Energy planned to announce that it would kill the $24.7 billion project later in the afternoon.
Duke Energy has been charging nuclear cost recovery fees for the planned plant in Levy County. Through these fees, Duke customers have paid $1.5 billion for the Levy County plant so far.
Fasano was critical of the state legislature and the Public Service Commission for not challenging the Duke nuclear power plan.
The revelation comes just a few years after U.S. nuclear industry executives said they were on the cusp of a revival.
That revival fell short as new technology allowed drillers to tap more natural gas within the United States, increasing gas supplies and pushing down gas prices. In states were utilities operate as monopolies, they are reluctant to ask their regulators for permission to build enormously expensive nuclear plants, or even fix old ones, when building gas-fired plants is so cheap. In places where utilities sell power into the open market, the low prices don't counter the financial risk of building expensive nuclear plants.
Two brand-new nuclear plants are under construction in Georgia and South Carolina that use the same reactor design that had been proposed for the Levy County plant. Separately, the Tennessee Valley Authority is finishing a previously abandoned nuclear plant at its Watts Bar plant. Utility companies have struggled to contain costs on all three construction projects.
Meanwhile, utilities have shuttered older plants. In June, Southern California Edison announced it would close its San Onofre plant rather than fix damaged equipment that critics said could never be safely replaced. The two reactors were idled in January 2012 when a small radiation leak led to the discovery of unusual damage to hundreds of new tubes carrying radioactive water.
In February, Duke Energy Corp. decided to close the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida after workers cracked a concrete containment building during an attempt to upgrade the plant in 2009. An attempt to fix the problem in 2011 resulted in more cracks.
Dominion Resources Inc. announced late last year it would close the Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin because it couldn't find a buyer.
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