Leading from the Left

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Progress Delays Pursuit of Nuclear Power

Late yesterday afternoon I received the folllowing press release from Progress Energy. They've decided to "delay" their pursuit of nuclear power! Given the problems at Shearon Harris, and the GAO study that Congressmen Price has requested, delaying any future nuclear power is a good decision on the part of Progress.

Here's the press release in it's entirety.

Progress Energy Carolinas sets goal of doubling efficiency savings to 2,000 MW

Company announces deferral of potential construction for new nuclear plant in N.C.,
proposes 2-year moratorium on new coal plants while pursuing aggressive conservation

RALEIGH, N.C. (May 30, 2007) – With its service area expanding by 25,000 to 30,000 new homes and businesses each year, and facing increased costs to ensure continued reliable electricity to accommodate that growth, Progress Energy Carolinas today announced a goal of displacing 2,000 megawatts (MW) of power generation through demand-side management and energy-efficiency programs.

In meeting this goal, the company will double the approximate 1,000 MW currently being saved with existing programs. The additional 1,000 MW reduction would be equivalent to the capacity of more than six combustion-turbine power plants.

“We are at an energy crossroads in the Carolinas,” said Bob McGehee, chairman and CEO of Progress Energy. “The growth in our service area is equivalent to a fully built-out, medium-sized city each year. Our homes and businesses are more dependent on reliable electricity than ever before. And our world has become much more aware of global climate issues and the factors that affect climate change. These decisions will position our company to help shape climate-change policy as it is being developed.

“As a utility, we’re committed to making sure electricity remains available, reliable and affordable and that it is produced in an environmentally sound manner. There are two main ways to meet that increased demand – engage our customers in changing behaviors to use less electricity, and continue to invest in new ways to produce and deliver power so it’s there when needed to meet the demands of the region’s growth. The balance is critical.”

Progress Energy will aggressively implement its energy-efficiency programs and, over the next two years, evaluate their effectiveness and participation rates to determine their viability in reducing electricity demand further. Additional reductions in future electricity demand growth through energy efficiency could push the need for new power plants farther into the future.

Related to its efficiency initiative, the company has announced a commitment that it will not propose any new coal plants during this two-year evaluation period. In addition, Progress Energy has notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that if the company moves forward with plans for a new nuclear plant at the Harris site in Wake County (a decision that has not yet been made), the new plant would be online in 2018 or beyond, at least two years later than initial energy demand forecasts had indicated.

“Working with the communities we serve, we are developing programs that are a good fit for our customers’ lifestyles,” McGehee said. “And we want to actively engage citizens in a call to action to use energy more wisely and efficiently. This will reduce demand, save customers money and preserve the environment.”

Progress Energy will launch a three-pronged effort to encourage citizen participation:

First, the company is setting the conservation example by converting its buildings, plants and distribution and transmission systems to new technologies that ensure operational efficiency.

· The newest Progress Energy headquarters building in downtown Raleigh (Two Progress Plaza) participates in the company’s load-control program; it has “smart elevators” and programmable thermostats, among many other features that curtail energy use. In addition, the company is making a commitment to replace existing lighting in the older headquarters building on Fayetteville Street with compact fluorescent lighting (CFL). CFLs reduce energy use by 75 percent compared to traditional incandescent lighting, and the change will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 56 tons, the equivalent of taking 10 vehicles off the road for a year.

· The company is improving the way electricity is transported from power plants to homes and businesses, upgrading equipment on its transmission system and studying a real-time distribution system that would allow remote operation of switches and other equipment at substations. At full implementation, the company will have the ability to save approximately 100 MW by reducing voltage slightly during peak energy demand.

· Since 2001, Progress Energy has completed 311 MW of power uprates at its nuclear plants in the Carolinas. A power uprate increases the maximum power level at which a nuclear plant may operate and the amount of energy the plant produces.

Second, the company is partnering with commercial, industrial and government customers, including the military, to find ways to help them reduce their demand. Those customers accounted for nearly 63 percent of the energy used in Progress Energy Carolinas’ retail service area in 2006.

Third, Progress Energy will offer several new programs to help residential customers use energy more wisely. Since 1980, participating Progress Energy customers have saved the equivalent of 16 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) through existing efficiency programs. New programs coming online this year will add to the approximately 1,000 MW of demand-side management and efficiency programs already in place:

· Installation of a new generation of programmable thermostats and water heater control devices to help regulate on-peak energy use in homes and businesses.

· Increased residential HVAC maintenance, as well as duct testing and repair.
· Large-scale replacement of incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs.
· Increased energy education and awareness, including in-home energy assessments and the use of new digital displays that provide real-time energy use and cost information for homeowners.

· Research and investments in new, clean fuel-cell technology for home and business electrical generation.

“We are moving forward on a variety of fronts to increase efficiency and to give our customers options to do the same,” McGehee said. “Technological advances will continue to be important, but the most critical element for success is our customers’ willingness to understand and change energy behaviors. This is a shared responsibility and a challenge for all of us, not just in the Carolinas but throughout the country and world, and we believe our customers will help make this aggressive goal a reality. Our customers will determine how quickly we achieve and surpass this goal.”

Progress Energy is committed to a long-term, balanced solution to meeting growing energy needs – a solution that includes three main components: (1) increased energy efficiency, (2) investments in renewable energy sources and other emerging energy technologies, and (3) upgrading of existing power plants and investments in new plants when needed.

Progress Energy is investing between $1.1 billion and $1.4 billion to reduce emissions from its coal-fired power plants to meet the requirements of North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act. The company also has invested $1 million in Microcell Corp., a Raleigh-based company working to bring commercially available fuel-cell applications to industrial, commercial and consumer markets, and is evaluating options for increasing electricity generation from other nontraditional and renewable sources, including hog waste and other biomass.

Last year, the company announced a potential nuclear plant expansion for the future to meet the demands of growth. Because it takes many years to site and build new power plants, the company is working to keep future power plant options open, including a plan announced in early 2006 to use the existing Harris Plant site southwest of Raleigh for nuclear expansion if the company decides to build a new nuclear plant. The existing nuclear unit at the Harris site came online in 1987 and has been helping to meet the growing region’s needs dependably and in an environmentally sound manner for 20 years. Progress Energy is continuing to move forward with preliminary activities to ensure nuclear power remains a viable alternative for meeting the region’s future energy needs. A final decision on building new nuclear plants in the Carolinas is still more than a year away.

Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is a Fortune 250 diversified energy company with more than 23,000 megawatts of generation capacity and $10 billion in annual revenues. The company's holdings include two electric utilities serving approximately 3.1 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Progress Energy's nonregulated operations include energy marketing. Progress Energy is the 2006 recipient of the Edison Electric Institute's Edison Award, the industry's highest honor, in recognition of its operational excellence. The company also is the first utility to receive the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates Founder's Award for dedication, commitment and sustained improvement in customer service. For more information about Progress Energy, visit the company's Web site at www.progress-energy.com.

Marty Clayton
Progress Energy
Manager - Community Relations