Utility to face state officials

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Progress on PSC agenda

By Pat Faherty

The only thing expected to be resolved concerning costs associated with the long shutdown of the Crystal River nuclear plant will be that more time is needed.

Progress Energy and other parties involved, including the Office of Public Counsel, will meet Public Service Commission staff March 12 on the PSC docket reviewing the utility’s actions resulting in the shutdown of Crystal River nuclear plant (CR3) and the need to purchase replacement power.

Last month, participants agreed it is more important to do the process right than to do it quickly. Progress Energy has suggested getting it done by the end of the year. Subsequently, a PSC hearing was moved back from June to late October.
The docket concerns a review of the utility’s actions resulting in the extended shutdown of CR3, the need to purchase replacement power and the settlement with Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited (NEIL).

At that meeting, attorney John T. Burnett, representing Progress Energy, said there are three main issues; decision of repair versus retire, the prudence of accepting the NEIL (insurance) settlement, and the global settlement. He said timing is different for each issue.

The Office of Public Counsel, representing the citizens of Florida and the Florida Retail Association, has petitioned the PSC for an investigation of Progress Energy’s efforts to get insurance money.

They also want to establish Progress customers are not responsible for certain costs relating to CR3 that are not covered by the nuclear cost recovery mechanism. According to the petition, those costs would not hit customers until January 2017.

The petition states the Progress Energy’s efforts to settle the insurance claims were insufficient and the $530 million the utility intends to accept is “woefully inadequate” and practically a fraud upon the electricity consuming public.

On March 1, Commissioner Eduardo Balbis issued an order to suspend the case scheduling dates and said a future order will revise the commission review schedule.

Contact Chronicle reporter Pat Faherty at 352-564-2924 or pfaherty@chronicleonline.com.