Crystal River 3 power uprate makes progress at NRC

While the future of the Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) Crystal River 3 nuclear plant in Florida remains in doubt, the station still has a power uprate application pending before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

NRC will take comment on a draft environmental assessment on the proposed power increase until Feb. 15. NRC issued the public comment notice in the Jan. 16 Federal Register.

For its part, the NRC staff published a finding of no significant impact for the proposed power uprate. The proposed extended power uprate “is not expected to cause impacts significantly greater than current operations,” according the NRC notice Jan. 16.

NRC has granted a couple of small power increase approvals to the nuclear station, located about 80 miles from Tampa, in Citrus County Fla., in 2002 and 2007.

The Crystal River 3 (CR3) nuclear plant has been idle since late 2009 when concrete cracking was discovered during steam generator replacement. Duke is currently deciding whether it would make better economic sense to repair the 900MW nuclear plant or replace it with other forms of electric generation.

Duke recently told the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) that mediation sessions are continuing with Nuclear Electric Insurance Ltd. (NEIL).

A report done for Duke by the Zapata consulting firm said that repairing the plant will likely cost in the neighborhood of $1.55bn. The “worst-case scenario,” if the scope of work is increased – including replacement of the “dome” – could put the expense at an estimated $3.43bn, according to Zapata.

Prior to the 2009 discovery of the concrete problems, then-Crystal River owner Progress Energy had moved to seek NRC approval for increasing the electric output by 168 MW.

CR3 is adjacent to Crystal Bay, a shallow embankment of the Gulf of Mexico. CR3 is a pressurized water reactor.

While the licensee proposes some plant modifications, all plant changes related to the proposed extended power uprate would occur within existing structures, or within previously disturbed areas on the Crystal River site, which is a sprawling campus of more than 4,000 acres.

For more information, contact NRC’s Bruce Olson, Project Manager, Environmental Projects Branch 2, by telephone: 301–415–3731; email: Bruce.Olson@nrc.gov.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.