Sierra Club statement on Duke Energy’s request to make customers pay millions to bail out doomed nuclear project

On August 25th,Duke Energy Carolinas announced it wants to scrap plans for the Lee Nuclear Station and to also make North Carolina customers bail the company out for at least $368 million of the money it’s spent on planning and pre-construction costs for the Gaffney, S.C.-based project.

Duke officially asked the N.C. Utilities Commission for approval to back out of the Lee project as well as for cost recovery from North Carolina customers as part of its request for a 13.9 percent rate hike, a process that will stretch over the next several months and that will include public hearings and comments.

Duke said the “risks and uncertainties to initiating construction on the Lee Nuclear project have become too great,” following the recent bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric, which last month caused the likely end of a similar nuclear project in South Carolina. The economic uncertainty and costliness of nuclear are further underlined by Duke doubling down today in saying it also  will not be purchasing V.C. Summer.

In response, Chris Hall, chair of the Sierra Club’s South Carolina chapter, released the following statement:

“We’re glad Duke has decided to abandon plans to build this plant, but it’s alarming that they want customers to not only pay hundreds of millions for this failed plant, but to also be burdened with a 17 percent monthly rate hike. Working families and people struggling to make ends meet shouldn’t be forced to pay for Duke’s bad bets on dangerous, dirty nuclear and fossil fuels.”

Dave Rogers, campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in the Carolinas, added:

“As we’ve seen with the V.C. Summer plant, new nuclear plants are customer boondoggles, with long delays and massive budget overruns. The Lee project was a bad investment from the start —especially since Duke could deliver customers inexpensive, reliable electricity by focusing on clean energy and energy efficiency, both of which help create good, local jobs and are safe for people and the environment.”

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