Duke Energy said Thursday that it planned to decommission the previously retired Crystal River Nuclear Plant in Florida by 2027, jumping ahead on the previously announced schedule by close to 50 years.
The decision process, which is subjected to approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Florida Public Service Commission, is likely to take a year to come to a conclusion, Duke said. However, if approved decommissioning could start as early as 2020, which would put it on track for completion by 2027.
The original plan called for the plant to retire in February 2013 and for decommissioning to be done by 2074.
The highly regulated process of plant decommissioning is contracted to Accelerated Decommissioning Partners, a joint venture between NorthStar Group Services and Orlano, U.S.A.
Duke said there were three reasons behind the decision to accelerate the project. First, it would allow for quicker reclamation of the property that Duke has no plans to sell. Secondly, the trust fund that pays for the decommissioning is currently sufficient to accelerate the process without affecting customers’ monthly bills. In addition, Duke said it had “cost-effectively completed the initial phase of decommissioning, placing the plant in an ideal condition to attract bidders to complete the work.”
Not incidentally, the announcement added, increased competition in the decommissioning industry has lowered decommissioning costs, “making the accelerated model financially feasible,” said Duke.
“We remain committed to making smart, forward-thinking and thoughtful business decisions that protect and benefit our customers,” said Catherine Stempien, Duke Energy’s state president for Florida. “The fixed-price contract will lock in today’s prices, providing us greater cost certainty.”
Under the terms of the contract, Duke will remain the commission-licensed owner of the nuclear plant, property and equipment. It will also retain ownership and control of the trust fund that pays for the decommissioning. Accelerated Decommissioning Partners, on the other hand, will become the Nuclear Regulatory Commission-licensed operator responsible for decommissioning the plant in compliance with all state and federal regulations.
Accelerated Decommissioning Partners will also own the dry cask storage system assets, including the used nuclear fuel assemblies, and operate and maintain the on-site dry cask storage facility.
“Selling the dry cask storage assets allows Duke Energy to transfer all aspects of used fuel management, including operating and maintenance costs, to us,” said Scott State, CEO of Accelerated Decommissioning Partners. “Owning the dry cask storage system assets closely aligns with our industry expertise and business strategy.”
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