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Letters to the Editor

Fortnightly Magazine - March 2010

ruling that the activities and the costs could not be attacked solely on the grounds that the utility should not have been pursuing a nuclear plant at all. The commission’s order was never intended to mean any more than that (and indeed cannot mean more than that because of the wording of the statute), and it certainly does not involve “a certified prudent decision” (to proceed with construction) that “can be reviewed tomorrow based on the results of the decision,” as stated in the article. The decision to incur project development costs (up to the stated limit) to maintain nuclear as an option in the future, and only that narrow decision, has been found to be prudent. That narrow decision cannot be re-reviewed. Nothing else has been ruled on and, therefore, a later consideration will be the initial review, not a re-review.

For your convenience, I have copied below relevant sections of the NCUC order ( June 11, 2008, Docket No. E-7, Sub 819 ).

Conclusions of Law ( p. 22 of order ):

2. Duke has met its burden by demonstrating that its decision, as of the date of the application, to incur project development costs so that the proposed Lee Nuclear Station can be maintained as a potential resource option to satisfy future projected load and energy requirements is reasonable and prudent.

3. The Commission’s findings and conclusions with respect to the reasonableness and prudence of Duke’s decision to incur proposed project development costs do not constitute approval to engage in any specific project development activities, nor to spend any specific amount. The determination of the reasonableness and prudence of specific project development activities and expenditures is reserved for later proceedings. Additionally, this approval of Duke’s current decision generally to incur project development costs does not constitute a finding that additional base load capacity is needed within the relevant time frame; nor does it constitute a finding that the Lee Nuclear Station should in fact be built.

Ordering Paragraph (p. 22 of order ):

2. That approval of the $160 million cap is not approval of any particular activities being undertaken or any particular costs being incurred during that period of time. No specific activities or costs are being approved, and all activities and expenditures will be subject to later determinations as to their prudence and reasonableness.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of the foregoing information.


Gisele L. Rankin , Staff Attorney,

Public Staff-North Carolina Utilities Commission.