Shouldering the financial burden for new nuke plants:
Due to controversial state legislation in 2007, the utilities can already force consumers to pre-pay for new plants. But Duke and Progress executives have signaled to key lawmakers and reporters that they still cannot attempt nuclear projects without additional legislation. It appears they want an automatic pass-through of rate increases without having to justify them in traditional legal proceedings before the state Utilities Commission.
Note to the new leadership in the GA: After all your rhetoric about easing the tax burden on citizens, if you help the utilities pick billions out of our pockets to finance something no bank would touch with a ten foot pole, you can kiss that majority goodbye.
The utilities admit they need such "restructuring" because they cannot get traditional financing for nuclear plants from Wall Street or banks. Why? Because these projects are too risky. During the nuclear boom of the 1970s and '80s, construction started on 90 U.S. reactors that never reached production. Plants that did limp to completion were plagued by massive cost overruns and years of delay. The Shearon Harris plant was budgeted at $1.1 billion for four reactors, but only one was completed. It cost over $4 billion. Similarly, Duke abandoned construction of six reactors in the Carolinas.
Families, businesses and entire towns were stuck with large rate hikes to pay for these mistakes. That's why our legislature outlawed pre-charging of customers in the 1980s. Now Duke and Progress want North Carolina families and businesses to shoulder even greater risks.