Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Duke Asks to Cancel Planned South Carolina Nuclear Reactors

  • Utility cites Westinghouse bankruptcy in regulatory filing
  • Duke seeks $353 million in development costs from ratepayers

Duke Energy Corp. asked to cancel its planned nuclear plant in South Carolina, citing the bankruptcy of reactor manufacturer Westinghouse Electric Co.

North Carolina utility regulators should require customers of the company’s Duke Energy Carolinas unit to pay $353 million of pre-construction costs spent on the Lee Nuclear Station over the next dozen years, the Charlotte-based company said Friday in a state filing.

The decision is the latest blow to the U.S. nuclear industry in the wake of the Westinghouse bankruptcy. South Carolina utilities Scana Corp. and Santee Cooper pulled the plug on a half-finished plant earlier this month after delays and cost overruns, and Southern Co. is weighing whether to halt work on two Georgia reactors. Nuclear units that were operating for decades have shut, unable to compete with low-cost renewable energy and abundant supplies of natural gas from shale basins.

“Risks and uncertainties to initiating construction on the Lee Nuclear project have become too great and cancellation of the project is the best option for customers,” Duke said in a separate statement.

A similar request will be made with South Carolina utility regulators in the future, Rick Rhodes, a company spokesman, said by phone Friday. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a construction and operating license for the plant last year and Duke will maintain that license “to build new nuclear at this site in the future if it is in the best interest of customers.”

NextEra Energy Inc. has said it’s decided to “pause” an expansion of its Turkey Point nuclear plant in Florida, but the company is still seeking approval to obtain and then maintain a federal license for two reactors there.

Duke shares rose 0.8 percent to $87.46 at 12:28 p.m. in New York.

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