Local News

Orange County may oppose Shearon Harris expansion

Posted July 31, 2008

— Progress Energy might build two more nuclear reactors at its Shearon Harris facility in Wake County. However, the company first has to get approval to do it.

Before company officials make up their minds, some local elected officials are moving forward with plans to oppose it.

The company is in the midst of public hearings with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a requirement to build new reactors.

Progress Energy officials said a growing customer base and a higher demand for power justify the expansion. The company expects to add 500,000 customers in the next 20 years.

The approval process could take years, but Orange County isn't wasting any time. The Board of Commissioners called a special meeting for Thursday night to consider a resolution to oppose Progress Energy's permit to expand Shearon Harris.

The resolution says Orange County is concerned about the potential for spontaneous combustion of spent nuclear fuel rods during low water conditions. It also says expansion of the plant would enhance the attraction of the facility for terrorist attacks.

Wake County leaders are on record in support of the plan. The school district approves.

"Electricity is an infrastructure that we need," said Joe Bryan, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners.

If Orange County commissioners vote in favor of the resolution, they will file a formal intervention with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

A final decision on whether to build the $2 to $3 billion reactor is still years away and will depend not only on public support, but on regulatory approval, predictions of energy demand and economic conditions, Progress officials said.

A new plant could be online as early as 2018 if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves.

North Carolina gets 32 percent of its power from five nuclear sites, 20 percent of which is supplied by Shearon Harris. Progress Energy has two other reactors in Brunswick County and Charlotte-based Duke Power has two reactors in Cornelius, north or Charlotte.

Nationwide, 20 percent of electricity comes from 103 commercial nuclear reactors operating in 31 states.


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  • independent-opinion Jul 31, 2008

    Alternative energy is the answer, specifically wind. I recommend we raze the university and the Govenors Club and build wind turbines all over that wonderfull hill and ridgeline.
    Should be able to generate enough power for at least a million new residents just with the hot air from downtown Raleigh.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 31, 2008

    Pilot - don't forget to dig out your winter sweater. I was wondering if we can sell Orange County to China and use the money toward building that nuc plant. either that or fix some of out collapsing bridges.

  • Pilot Jul 31, 2008

    Let's just sit here like scared widdle wabbits and do NOTHING! Except of course conserve our resources and gum "GREEN" to death! While China drills 80 miles off our coast to take the oil. While Chavez flaunts his CitCo fuel in our face.

    OMGoodness it's Jimmah Catah's reign all over again! Man like, man. Like turn down the theromostats, man like we have had it too good in Americah for too long. Lets live like the Europeans! Third world status where we come!


  • ThisIsMyName Jul 31, 2008

    Before you comment, maybe you should know that Chapel Hill gets its power from Duke Energy, not Progress Energy.

  • They call me CATMAN Jul 31, 2008

    Leonardo so we do nothing about the oil shortage we still use oil and to do nothing about it is just going to raise the gas prices higher. If we had started drilling in ANWAR 10 years ago we would be supplying the USA with USA oil. to do nothing about the oil drilling is what got us in this mess in the first place and it was your Democrats in Congress that made sure no drilling went on.

  • nuncvendetta Jul 31, 2008

    Yours truly is a bleeding-heart liberal. That said, I'll all for this nuclear power plant. In fact, let's power everything in this country that we can off of nuclear power. Even cars can run off of nuclear power indirectly if they are those plug-in electric types. I think the only thing that would still require oil in the country would be airplanes. We have enough sources of oil in this country to buy domestic to satisfy that residual need far into the future.

    Nuclear = Breaks the strangehold on foreign oil, puts the terrorists out of business by destroying the marketplace for oil from which they derive most of their resources (like how Reagan destroyed the USSR by bankrupting it), and removes any need to drill for more additional sources of oil in our own oceans.

    Sure, we can explore fancy hydrogen solutions, gamma wind, or whatever the physicists at Stanford are doing in the basement right now, but I'd much rather we build 1000 nuclear plants than drill for more oil.

  • Pulling for the Tarheels Jul 31, 2008

    Just want all of you to know that there is more to Orange County than just Chapel Hill & Carrboro. I know most of your comments are made in a joking manner (or I hope so), but because I live north or I-85, I hope when I need electricity, I can count on one of you :-) I don't hug my trees - I cut them down when they get in the way of my power lines. Can we just vote to have CH-C as their own county? :-)

  • Leonardo Jul 31, 2008

    You people just like to blame everything on liberals. I am so sick of the old stereotype that Democrats/Liberals are anti-energy, anti-economy, pro-taxes, etc...
    I'm a liberal, and I think it's a GOOD thing that they plan to add reactors to the plant. It's much better than coal. And most liberals I know aren't opposed to drilling for oil for environmental reasons, but because nearly all experts agree that the little that is out there wouldn't put much of a dent in prices, and we think we should leave some of that oil for our children instead of sucking the ground dry to fill our Hummers. And believe it or not, I LIKE low taxes too!

    So please keep your tired old prejudices to yourselves.

  • OLD PIRATE 2 Jul 31, 2008

    The Governor has the answer to drought, you take it from whoever has it...Same simple solution for power, just take it!!
    VOTE them OUT

  • They call me CATMAN Jul 31, 2008

    The peoples republic of Chapel Hill. What a bunch of silly Libs. Fine just have progress energy stop supplying power to The Republic of Chapel Hill.