27 April 2004 - Duke Power joined a consortium of companies Monday to ask the US Department of Energy for about $400m to help develop plans for a new nuclear plant.
The group of power companies has not committed to building a new nuclear station and has yet to pick a site for a construction application.
Duke, the Carolinas' largest utility with 2.1m customers, says it will need to build a variety of power plants to serve newcomers to the area and to replace aging equipment.
Nuclear plants are among the most efficient and cheap to operate. Duke Power's three nuclear plants supply about half its power. But anti-nuclear groups fear possible accidents, terrorist attacks at the plants and the storage of spent fuel.
Brew Barron, Duke's chief nuclear officer, handicapped the odds for building a new nuclear plant in the next decade at 50-50.
The consortium Duke joins - NuStart Energy Development - is asking the Department of Energy for about $400m to help pay for engineering plans and its application for construction and operating licenses to build a plant.
Duke is paying $7m of its own over seven years into the fund, which consortium members hope will total about $800m. The consortium's other members are power companies and reactor vendors.
The consortium hopes to have a license issued in late 2010. The last US nuclear station to begin operation was in Tennessee in 1996. Duke's three started service in 1973, 1981 and 1985.