Duke Energy Corp. completed its merger with Progress Energy Inc. on July 2. The merger, valued at about $32 billion, has created what will be known simply as Duke Energy. Duke Energy, also, is now the country’s largest electric utility as measured by enterprise value, market capitalization, generation assets, customers and other criteria. With 7.1 million electric customers in the Carolinas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, the utility generates over 58,000 MW in total capacity.
Duke is now responsible for the third largest nuclear power generation fleet in the U.S.
Prior to the merger, Duke operated seven reactors at three sites; Progress Energy ran five reactors at four sites. Now, Duke operates 12 reactors at seven sites that generate about 17 percent, or 9,500 MW, of the utility’s capacity.
Duke Energy has thrown around the topic of nuclear expansion and has submitted combined construction and operating license (COL) applications to the NRC for the proposed Lee Nuclear Station in Gaffney, S.C., the Levy County site in Florida, and for two new units at its Harris site in New Hill, N.C., all of which would use the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor and all of which are pending. Dave Scanzoni, spokesperson for Duke Energy, said although both Progress and Duke are highly-skilled operators, no decision to build the new units has been made at this time, citing factors such as natural gas prices, the cost of new nuclear, the price of carbon and electricity demand.
Duke Energy now operates these nuclear power sites:
Brunswick Nuclear Plant
The two-unit, 1,870 MW Brunswick Nuclear Plant is located approximately two miles north of Southport, N.C., and houses two boiling water nuclear reactors. This was the first nuclear power plant built in North Carolina, beginning operation in 1975. An additional unit became operational in 1977, and 244 MW of electrical generation was added to the plant’s output from 2002 to 2005 as part of an extended power uprate program.
McGuire Nuclear Station
The 2,200 MW McGuire Nuclear Station is near Lake Norman in Mecklenburg County, N.C. Lake Norman was built by Duke Energy in 1963 by damming the Catawba River with Cowans Ford Hydroelectric Station. The lake provides cooling water for both McGuire Nuclear Station and Marshall Steam Station.
Unit 1 at McGuire Nuclear Station began commercial operation in 1981, followed by unit 2 in 1984.
Catawba Nuclear Station
Catawba Nuclear Station is located on Lake Wylie in York County, S.C. Catawba Nuclear Station is jointly owned by North Carolina Municipal Power Agency Number One, North Carolina Electric Membership Corp., Piedmont Municipal Power Agency and Duke Energy. Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1985, followed by unit 2 in 1986. Together the units generate about 2,258 MW.
Oconee Nuclear Station
Oconee Nuclear Station is located on Lake Keowee in Oconee County, S.C., eight miles north of Seneca, S.C. Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1973, followed by units 2 and 3 in 1974.
The 2,538 MW Oconee station was the second nuclear station in the country to have its licenses renewed by the NRC for an additional 20 years.
Crystal River Nuclear Plant
The single-unit, 860 MW Crystal River Nuclear Plant is about eight miles north of Crystal River, Fla. The pressurized water reactor nuclear unit is a part of the Crystal River Energy Complex, which also includes four coal-fired generating units. The Crystal River Nuclear Plant began operation in 1977.
Robinson Nuclear Plant
The single-unit, 724 MW Robinson Nuclear Plant is located near Hartsville, S.C. This site also includes a coal-fired unit and a combustion turbine unit. The Robinson nuclear unit began operation in 1971.
Harris Nuclear Plant
The single-unit, 900 MW Harris Nuclear Plant is near New Hill, N.C., about 25 miles southwest of Raleigh, N.C. The plant began commercial operation in 1987.