Local News

Progress Energy hopes to expand nuclear plant

Posted February 3, 2008
Updated April 30, 2008

— The Triangle is seeing unprecedented growth, and some people are asking how all the homes, buildings and businesses on the horizon will get electric power.

Progress Energy's solution is to expand the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in southern Wake County. Others say that is the wrong answer.

“Nuclear is one of the safest, most-reliable sources of electricity,” Progress Energy spokesman Rick Kimble said.

"The economics of new nuclear just really doesn't work,” said Jim Warren, executive director of the North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network.

Progress Energy wants to build two new reactors at the Shearon Harris site to accommodate growth. The counter-argument is that more nuclear energy is precisely what the community does not need.

“It's an outdated technology,” Warren said. 

His environmental group is critical of nuclear power and wants consumers to look for more energy-efficient solutions that cut down on greenhouse gas emissions from conventionally fueled plants.

“We know how to do that, and building new nuclear plants would squander our chances to do that in time,” he said.

Ultimately, the decision on the Shearon Harris expansion is up to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“As long as it's safe, that is our bottom line,” U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Dale Klein said.

Klein also said there is not a "significant safety concern at Shearon Harris." While the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not received Progress Energy's application yet, Klein said new reactors are a sign of the times.

“We need to use all forms of energy wisely. If we can conserve, we should. I think a lot of us now turn our lights out when we leave a room. We used to leave them on,” Klein said.

Progress Energy said it expects to file its expansion application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sometime this month. The company hopes to have the two new reactors up and running by 2018.

The Shearon Harris nuclear plant generates electricity for 1.5 million Progress Energy customers in the Carolinas.


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  • jackadoo Feb 4, 2008

    I worked for CP&L for 30 yrs. They are boneheads. I was at Harris when Harris unit 1 was being built. It is the most expensive single reactor in the world and 20% of your utility bill pays for it. The "comment" boxes at the construction site stayed full of beer cans.

  • Timbo Feb 4, 2008

    wwyoud, if you are going to quote stories, be sure to quote all the facts. At no point was there a danger of breaching the container when the train derailed.

  • djofraleigh Feb 4, 2008

    Wake County’s mismanaged growth rate is going to demand Shearon Harris has more waste stored there than should be. I'm against adding another plant there until that waste issue is resolved.

    As for alternative sources, I don’t see them being enough to replace the plant in operation considering the rapid growth in this area. Should we have a significant nuclear accident at Shearon Harris, then all the land contaminated would be lost to us. I don’t guess we would even be paid for our loss, would we?

    At some point, population growth is going to have to be discussed, and something done about our rapidly expanding demands for power by more and more people, including 3rd world countries.

  • foetine Feb 4, 2008

    The Harris plant was designed for 4 reactors nearly three decades ago. This is just another sign of how sluggish CP&L (Progresss Energy) has been

  • charlesboyer Feb 4, 2008

    "so your edumacted argument begins with putting others down and ends with the presumption that people who may not have studied in the vaunted halls like yourself may not know what they're talking about?." - likemenow

    When it comes to background knowledge of complex engineering systems need, absolutely that is what I believe. At the same time I believe that if I needed surgery, I would want to have a fully qualified surgeon as opposed to someone that's read a wikipedia article or stayed in a Holiday Inn Express the night before.

  • likemenow Feb 4, 2008

    It's funny how you'll hardly ever find a nuclear engineer that disagrees with the expansion of nuclear power...something to the efffect of "job seurity"..and in defense of those on the other side of the argument, we all have our biases..some of us have just looked on the other side of the looking glass to see what else might be out there that makes more sense in the long run, all thing considered...not just "bang for the buck"..which is probably a bad term to use with nulcear energy

  • likemenow Feb 4, 2008

    RE:"The condescending arguments..."..so your edumacted argument begins with putting others down and ends with the presumption that people who may not have studied in the vaunted halls like yourself may not know what they're talking about?....It's been a while since I took a Logics class but I seem to remember a term called a "false argument"...another word might be "obfuscation"...I have a friend whose main career has been in the construction field..and how who had become one of the most renowned world leaders in the renewable energy field in over the last 20 years...and without an engineering degree to say the least...

  • likemenow Feb 4, 2008

    "They don't want Shearon Harris expansion, but will build swimming pools in their affluent neighborhoods ? Get educated, people."..wanna explain the connection between swimming pools and nuclear energy? Chlorine gas in a rail car could kill people in a contained area but a nuclear incident could damage the entire ecosystem, economy , and not to mention the health ,for decades, of people within scores of miles

  • jackadoo Feb 4, 2008

    There is no way to make a new nuke economically feasible. By the way, the NCUC allows the utilities to receive an 11% return on equity. Equity is defined by plant investment...ie the more a plant costs to build the larger the profit margin is allowed after operation. And the plants ALWAYS cost many more times than originally forcast. If the utility had to commit upfront to a cost, they would never build a nuke.

  • charlesboyer Feb 4, 2008

    The condescending arguments offered by a couple of the ant-nuclear power people here are exactly the reason that they are rarely taken seriously.

    Besides, as an engineer it is hard to take technical analysis by a dance teacher, a bookseller, two reverends, an a store owner - the bulk of NC Warn's board of directors. Their advisory board contains not one single nuclear engineer. And Jim Warren, their director - who knows what his background is, besides rabble rousing with half truths and outright lies...or more likely, they simply haven't a clue about what they are talking about.