Local News

Orange County opposes Shearon Harris expansion

Posted July 31, 2008

— The Orange County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Thursday to formally oppose a proposed expansion to the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant.

In February, Progress Energy filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build two more nuclear reactors at its Shearon Harris facility in Wake County.

On Thursday, commissioners also voted to hire an attorney to file a formal intervention with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In a letter to the commissioners, County Manager Laura Blackmon said opponents of the Harris proposal have until Aug. 4 to file an intervention.

Progress Energy is in the midst of public hearings with the NRC, a requirement to build new reactors. Company 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.

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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  • dplowman Aug 1, 2008

    Thats ok when people are paying 12 dollors a gallen for gas and 2000 dollors a month to have lights maybe they will let the plant expand. the reacters are the best way to produce clean and cheep power. The next best way is to use the natural gas we have in great supply in America but cannot get to because of the same type of folks who dont want the plant to expand.
    The next way is with the two hundred year suppy of coal we have in the ground and the tree huggers can go jump. Why should we support our enemys with money just because the climate is suposed to be getting warmer?
    But I guess I will just inflate my tires a little and save gas like the next dem hopful said to do.

  • jchalmersnc Aug 1, 2008

    Would someone please ask the adults to come out and play in Orange County! Has anyone been to Hillsborough lately? It is growing, as is most of this region. Now, unless they plan on going back to their colonial past, they better figure out how they will power all the growth that is increasing their tax base. Build more reactors! Build two while they are paying, it will be cheaper now than in another twenty years.

  • fkhaywood Aug 1, 2008

    As an electrical engineer who has worked for Progress Energy (30 years)and Duke Power (1 1/4 years), I can attest with absolute certainety that all of Orange Countty is served by Duke Power. The maps used by both utilities to designate service areas were drawn by me.

  • NCJ Aug 1, 2008

    Someone had mentioned that OC should switch from Progress Energy to Duke Power. My understanding is that they are already on Duke Power.

  • dogman1973 Aug 1, 2008

    Orange County motto is not in our backyards.....and we will make sure that if you get in our backyard to raise your taxes so you will leave!

  • Not_So_Dumb Aug 1, 2008

    No, I am not saying it will stop it, but just like cutting down wind barriers caused the dust bowl, we should be absolutely sure that we don't mess with something we don't understand. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. If we have X energy come from wind power, then it has lost X energy. We need to be 100% sure that we know what that will do BEFORE we start these huge wind farms people are talking about.

  • pappybigtuna1 Aug 1, 2008

    Is this not a form of Communisim - 4 or five people deside the future of the many. Think the term is Pinko-Commies. Orange County Comrades

  • SaltyOldJarhead Aug 1, 2008

    Not_So_Dumb, I'm sure I misunderstood your post. You're not seriously suggesting that building windmills will cause the earth's winds to stop blowing, are you?

    We should use Nuclear Power in conjunction with a wide variety of other resources (including Wind, Geo-thermal, Solar, Tidal, and fuel cells) to generate our power and totally eliminate coal and natural gas power plants.

  • Not_So_Dumb Aug 1, 2008

    Before people go touting the benefits of wind power, they need to become familiar with the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Then look up what would happen to the plant were we to decrease the amount of wind currents. Here's a hint - it would make the most doomsday global warming scenario look like a sunny day.

    This isn't to say that wind power cannot be used, but on a mass scale, we need to be VERY cautious about interfering with the winds of this planet. Haven't we messed up enough stuff already? How about erring on the side of caution for once, humanity, rather than assuming we know it all?

  • Goalieman Aug 1, 2008

    I grew up in Seneca, SC where Duke Power has 3 reactors. As the crow flies, My home was 5.5 miles from the plant. A lot of people were employed there and you would never have known it was there unless you drove by. The do not have those huge cooling towers that release steam.

    Anyway, I support Nuclear Power as it runs clean and is environmentally friendly...when controlled. I wish they had it for vehicles!

    Question though! Would it make my energy bill go down. I have never paid this much for power!