Add Duke Energy Corp. to the list of U.S. utility owners affected by the bankruptcy of nuclear contractor Westinghouse Electric Co.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission ordered Charlotte-based Duke this week to report on the financial status of Westinghouse owner Toshiba Corp. and how it may affect the two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors the power supplier has proposed to install at the planned Lee nuclear station in Cherokee County, S.C.
Westinghouse’s bankruptcy in March has already thrown into question the fate of four U.S. nuclear reactors – two being built by Southern Co. in Georgia and another two by Scana Corp. in South Carolina. The companies and regulators in those states are now grappling with what to do with the projects, which were already delayed by years and billions of dollars over budget.
Among other things, North Carolina regulators ordered Duke on Monday to say whether it could use a different technology to build its reactors at Lee; whether the company had suspended investment in the project until the “Toshiba-Westinghouse situation is resolved”; and whether it would seek a return on “abandoned costs” outside of a general rate case should the project be canceled.
Duke, which has 60 days to respond, will provide the information requested, spokeswoman Rita Sipe said Wednesday by email.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in December awarded Duke licenses to build two nuclear power reactors near Gaffney, S.C., although the company might never build them. Duke applied for the licenses for the William States Lee plant in 2007 but said in December it is undecided whether to go forward with the $11 billion plant.
The Observer contributed.