Duke Energy Is Shifting From Nuclear To Solar!
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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What fantastic news for solar enthusiasts, climate scientists, and environmentalists! On Tuesday of this week, Duke Energy of Florida announced a settlement with Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC), equivalent to other states’ Public Utility Commission (PUC), to stop plans to build a nuclear power plant in western Florida. The utility, with the blessing from PSC, will instead invest $6 billion in solar panels, grid-tied batteries, grid modernization projects, and electric vehicle charging stations. This new investment plan will involve the installation of 700 MW of solar capacity over four year period in the western Florida region.
Duke Energy Florida may not have started building the Levy nuclear power plant, but it did have plans to order two AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse. But now, with the dramatic decrease in cost of solar and increase in battery storage technology, Florida utility concluded that it is much more cost effective to invest in solar rather than nuclear. Last week, Duke told its PSC that it would have to increase rates by more than 8% due to increased fossil fuel (coal and natural gas) costs. But with the new investment plan directing the utility toward solar and storage, that rate hike will be 4.6% instead of 8%.
Even though the preparatory expenditure on Levy are now sunk costs, this new plan will save residential customers future nuclear related rate increases. Customers will see a cost reduction of $2.50 per MWh (megawatt-hour) through the removal of unrecovered Levy Nuclear Project costs, according to the utility. The 700 MW of solar may not cover the 2.2 GW (gigawatt) capacity of the Levy plant, but it does indicate the dramatic shift from nuclear power to more solar power.
Duke Energy of Florida serves 1.8 million Floridians and had been relying heavily on natural gas. This week Duke said it wants to raise its solar power capacity to 8% generating power in the next four years.
The parent company of Duke Energy Florida, Duke Energy, also pulled the plug on another planned nuclear power plant in North Carolina last week, according to GreenTechMedia. With continuing drop in solar cost and improved battery storage technology, it is conceivable that Duke would choose the best option of increasing solar for its customers.
It is a turning point in the history of energy use, when utility and PSC are able to be weaned from nuclear and move onto solar. Thanks to those who have worked tirelessly in researching, developing, and improving battery storage technology. For this is necessary in order for solar to be promoted from intermittent to reliable source of power.
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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