Duke sues to recover Levy costs

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 By Pat Faherty

While the proposed Levy County nuclear plant never came to fruition, it continues to generate big numbers.

The latest dollar figures are tied to a lawsuit Duke Energy filed last week against Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC).

Westinghouse held the contract to provide two nuclear power units for the planned Levy plant.

Known as the EPC agreement, it dates back to Dec. 31, 2008, and is between Duke Energy Florida, formerly Progress Energy, and a consortium that included Westinghouse Electric Company. It called for two Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear units to be constructed in Levy County.

The two-reactor plant was expected to cost between $18 billion and $24 billion with estimated in-service dates of 2024 and 2025. During the five-year agreement, Duke had spent an estimated $1 billion on the project

The project’s end was announced by Duke last August and in January it officially terminated its engineering and EPC agreement.

Now WEC claims termination costs for the project in excess or $482 million and a termination fee of $30 million.

However, Duke claims because the license application review process was uncertain, if the license was not obtained by Jan. 1, 2014, either party could terminate the agreement.

In the lawsuit, Duke denies liability for both amounts. Instead, it wants WEC to refund at least $54.1 million for work paid for but not performed.

Duke claims WEC has refused to refund the money or allow it to be used against the disputed termination costs. It is requesting the U.S. District Court award it a judgment of $54.1 million, with interest.

Duke can continue recovering Levy nuclear plant expenses from customers until it reaches full cost recovery or the first billing cycle of January 2018.

Contact Chronicle reporter Pat Faherty at 352-564-2924 or pfaherty@chronicleonline.com.