Duke Energy gets Florida approval for CR3 dry cask storage

A Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) company has won approval from the Florida Public Service Commission for a facility to store spent fuel from the retired Crystal River 3 nuclear plant.

Duke Energy Florida sought and received PSC approval to build a dry cask storage facility at CR3 to hold existing spent nuclear fuel during the plant’s decommissioning.

“After analyzing several options, on site dry cask storage proved the most efficient and cost-effective method to safely store CR3 spent nuclear fuel,” PSC Chairman Art Graham said in a Dec. 18 statement. “We will continue to ensure that all costs associated with the decommissioning project are prudent and necessary,” Graham said.

The company could have either continued to store the material in the spent fuel pool or transport the spent fuel to another Duke nuclear facility. Duke anticipates completing the storage facility construction in 2017 and expects to have all fuel transferred from the storage pool to dry casks by 2019.

CR3 decommissioning processes and costs are detailed in DEF’s 2013 Settlement Agreement, approved by the PSC. The nuclear power plant was retired when DEF decided not to repair the facility that sustained damages during an upgrade and repair project in 2009. Since the unit’s retirement, spent fuel is no longer being generated, but storage of existing spent fuel is still required. Dry cask storage allows the fuel’s radioactivity to safely decay naturally, the PSC said.

Amortization of storage construction costs will be deferred pending the outcome of ongoing U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) litigation.

DEF maintains that storage facility construction would not have been necessary if the federal government had moved forward with a national storage site at Yucca Mountain. Duke is seeking recovery of construction costs and intends to use any financial award to reduce base rate impacts for customers.

Duke had decided to retire the already-idle 860-MW plant in early 2013.

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.