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Nuclear foes ready for battle

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    Nuclear is the least likely option to be built, due to the financial risk. The Charlotte Observer, Wed, Feb. 20, 2008 Nuclear foes ready for battle JOHN
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      "Nuclear is the least likely option to be built, due to the financial
      risk."

      The Charlotte Observer, Wed, Feb. 20, 2008

      Nuclear foes ready for battle

      JOHN MURAWSKI

      The arguments against nuclear power used to be pretty simple, even if
      not universally convincing: The plants are inherently dangerous and
      doomed to fail.

      But in an era of higher energy costs, nuclear foes hope they can make
      a case that has broader public appeal, based on cost and need.

      Opponents are preparing to challenge Progress Energy's proposal to
      add a second reactor at the Shearon Harris plant in Wake County. They
      will argue that there are cheaper options and that growing demand for
      electricity can be met with conservation and other efforts.

      The Raleigh utility, which submitted a 4,000-plus page application
      with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday, disagrees, saying
      it will need the new reactor to generate electricity in about a
      decade.

      The cost of a new power plant is not a theoretical debate but a
      matter of pocketbook economics. The cost will be covered using
      utility customers' monthly payments. And recent cost estimates for
      power plants are staggering.

      "We think that nuclear will sink under its own weight," said Molly
      Diggins, North Carolina director of the Sierra Club in
      Raleigh. "Nuclear is the least likely option to be built, due to the
      financial risk."

      Florida Power & Light, which is proposing using the same Westinghouse
      AP1000 nuclear plant as Progress Energy, said recently that a single
      reactor would cost $6 billion to $9 billion to finance and build.
      That's three times more than industry estimates provided several
      years ago. Soaring labor and materials costs have driven up costs.

      Progress Energy, still negotiating with Westinghouse, won't publicly
      disclose estimates for a new reactor at Shearon Harris until it signs
      a contract in about two years. But the company will offer a glimpse
      of its budget when it provides Florida regulators an estimate next
      month for a proposed Westinghouse reactor in that state.

      Progress Energy has said customers' electricity use is growing by
      about 2 percent a year and will require the construction of a large
      power plant to meet demand. The company is looking at expanding
      conservation programs and buying power from independent generators of
      solar power and other renewable energy sources to curb demand. But it
      predicts an increasing appetite for electricity.

      "Power plants are not discretionary," said Progress spokesman Rick
      Kimble. "You're not reducing the number of children in schools.
      You're not reducing the number of homes going up."
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