Ever buy a piece of furniture from a discount store? You always find out why the original cost was so cheap. . .in a few years.
Welcome to North and South Carolina, the Duke Energy discount coal and nuclear warehouse.
Duke proposed the Lee Nuclear Power Station in 2007. Planned for Cherokee County, South Carolina, but the Dukes’s original design concept caused delays, cost overruns and eventual cancellation of the project. The estimated cost of construction had ballooned from an original estimated $6-billion in 2007, to $11-billion estimated in 2011.
“Most notably, 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,” South Carolina Electric & Gas said in a statement. However, Duke intends to maintain the license to build new nuclear at this same site in the future “if it is in the best interest of customers.”
This brings to three (3) the total number of Nuclear projects cancelled in 2017 due to the rapidly falling cost of solar + energy storage, against the continually rising cost of coal and nuclear.
In return for the cancellation of the Lee Nuclear Plant, the citizens of South Carolina get a proposed 13.6% rate increase to be spread across all utility users, and they also get a bill for $2.5 billion over 15-years to clean up 32 separate coal-ash storage pits used by Duke Energy.
A coal-ash pit overflowed a levy in South Carolina in 2014 leading to a spill of over 39,000 tins of highly toxic coal-ash into the Dan River. Only 12% of that coal ash was ever recovered and Duke Energy was only fined $6-million by the EPA.
The cost of cheap Coal and cheaper Nuclear is never estimated while including the massive costs of cleanup after-the-fact. Rate payers are always left holding the bag for covering the “end” costs, while the utility companies never share the cost or the burden of either.
On the opposite end of the spectrum sits the renewable energy spectrum. Solar, wind, and geothermal have their own “end” costs but they are pegged at less than 2% of the original installation cost. In each case the original renewable energy product is highly recyclable. Wind turbines can be remade into new wind turbines. Batteries can be recycled into new batteries. Solar panels can be broken back into their original parts of aluminum, silica, glass, and again recycled.