Duke Energy Asks Customers to Foot Bill for $646 Million Loss as Another U.S. Nuclear Project Is Abandoned

first_imgDuke Energy Asks Customers to Foot Bill for $646 Million Loss as Another U.S. Nuclear Project Is Abandoned FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Charlotte Observer:Duke Energy said it plans to abandon construction of a nuclear station near Gaffney, S.C., and that it wants customers to pay about $636 million for the scrapped project.Charlotte-based Duke requested Friday that state regulators allow cancellation of its Lee nuclear station, citing in part this year’s bankruptcy filing by nuclear-reactor supplier Westinghouse, the primary contractor on the project. In its request to the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Duke said the risks and uncertainties of starting construction on the project “have become too great” and that cancellation “is the best option for customers.Duke’s decision to abandon the Lee plant comes after two other utilities, South Carolina Electric and Gas and its partner Santee Cooper, recently halted construction on the V.C. Summer nuclear project near Columbia because of high costs, low demand for energy and Westinghouse’s bankruptcy. Westinghouse this week announced furloughs and layoffs for workers in Charlotte and South Carolina.More: Duke wants customers in Charlotte, elsewhere to pay $636M for abandoned projectAssociated Press:In a separate filing Friday, Duke Energy admitted it blew past a $120 million cap the North Carolina regulatory commission set in 2011 for the state’s ratepayers. Duke Energy Carolinas admitted it has incurred $332 million trying to build the Lee nuclear plant, and said it didn’t need to clear with regulators that it was exceeding the cap.The utility “respectfully asserts that is not required to request that the Commission review the Company’s decision to incur project development cost,” the company’s filing said.Considering how far along Duke Energy Carolinas was in the process of getting a federal operating license for the nuclear plant, it would have been unreasonable to suspend these efforts once the company hit the cap. Besides, Duke Energy said, it kept the commission informed in semi-annual reports, implying regulators had a chance to object before now.David Drooz, the top state lawyer representing utility consumers, said his office would study the details of Duke Energy’s arguments and take a public position later.State regulators should carefully examine Duke Energy’s bill for the Lee nuclear plant and push the company toward more use of renewable energy, said Peter Ledford, an attorney with North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, an advocacy group.“Lee Nuclear has never, and now will never, generate a single watt of electricity, whereas their investments in solar are providing ratepayers with consistent energy generation,” he wrote in an email. “This clean and affordable resource does not have the same construction and fuel risks associated with coal, natural gas, or nuclear.”More: Duke Energy scraps SC nuke plant, seeks higher power rateslast_img read more


first_imgThe crackle of the fire hypnotizes me.  Flames lick up and consume each piece of chopped birch. It’s been a perfect day: friends converging on the slopes of Snowshoe Mountain.  My trashed quads tell the story of just how hard I played on my skis.Six inches have already fallen, with eight more expected overnight. It’s as if nature is creating an exclusive playground for us while we sleep, and all we need to do is wake up and clip in to our ski boots.This experience could not have come at a better time for me. Over the past few months, I have been dealing with one of the most difficult challenges of my life. It started with a headache that lasted for over two weeks straight. I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t focus on work, couldn’t think, couldn’t smile. Finally I broke down and went to the ER. A CT scan uncovered an unfamiliar mass in my brain. It was seven millimeters in diameter, about the size of a fingernail.It didn’t make sense. I had put so much emphasis on personal fitness and health. Why would this happen to me?I was flooded with fear. What if my twenties was as far as life would take me?  What would I miss out on?A visit to the neurologist and an MRI were the next steps. I had recently turned 26 and gone onto my own health insurance plan. The costs were racking up at an alarming rate. Worse still was the uncertainty and mental turmoil as I waited to hear the prognosis.More MRIs followed and nothing was decided with any certainty. “We need to keep an eye on this over the next few months and see if it grows,” the docs said. As my hopes for a life full of adventure and adrenaline waned, I sunk deeper into despair.Then I received a call from my sister: “Let’s plan a ski trip together,” she said.A few weeks later, here I am. I step out onto the porch to grab more firewood, and I am greeted by the profound silence of a winter night. It’s like being in a professional recording studio; it is nature’s audio damping. I stick my tongue out just like I did when I was a kid to catch some flakes in my mouth. The foot of perfect powder on the porch is growing every second.I throw another log on the fire, and my thoughts extend only to tomorrow and no further. Tomorrow, the powder conditions will be absolutely perfect. The Mumford and Sons song, “White Blank Page,” comes into my head, and I realize that is what we are going to have: a clean slate of powder and the ability to make completely fresh tracks.I close my eyes and imagine what it will be like tomorrow: one fist punching in front of the other as my poles lead the way, the repetitive loading and releasing of energy through the edges of my skis, back and forth, back and forth—it’s such a simple but addictive motion.Chris GragtmansSometimes, when skiing powder, I leave the earth. I pick up speed until I silently lift into the air, carried by the mysterious certainties of gravity and physics, down the mountain, airborne over the snow.Tonight, the falling snow is soothing some sharp emotions inside me.  There are things that I have control over in life, and there are things beyond my influence. I can’t do anything about the mass beneath my skull, but I can do something about the thoughts that flow through my brain. I can make a choice to keep living life to the fullest or allow fear to cripple me.One thing is certain. I know that I have packed everything that I possibly could have into the quarter century of my existence so far. I don’t want my story to end yet, but if it does, I will close my eyes without a single regret.I spread the ashes of the fire, take one last look out at the blizzard, and walk to bed. As I drift off to sleep, my last thought is of the rope dropping at the top of my favorite run.  I sprint out in front and carve the first tracks into an immaculate mountain of powder. •last_img read more

First Woman Leading Coast Guard Station in Colombia

first_imgBy Myriam Ortega / Diálogo March 16, 2020 The Colombian Navy has 15 Coast Guard stations tasked to counter crime at sea, monitor environmental protection, and contribute to search and rescue operations to ensure maritime security throughout the territory. For the first time in the history of the Colombian naval institution, a woman is leading one of these stations: Lieutenant Commander Raquel Elena Romero Quintero.Lt. Cmdr. Romero is the first woman to assume the role of commander at a Colombian Navy Coast Guard Station. (Photo: Urabá Coast Guard Station)With 66 men and 11 women under her command, Lt. Cmdr. Romero leads the operations of the Urabá Coast Guard Station, which covers Colombia’s northeastern region near the Panamanian border, a corridor known for the trafficking of drugs, migrants, fauna and flora species, and contraband.“This situation [Urabá as a crime corridor] makes Urabá’s Coast Guard Station highly operational,” said the officer, 39, who took over as commander in January 2019. “My area of operations covers 5,965 miles at sea and 267 miles of coastline, where I am responsible for defending the constitution and sovereignty, preserving life at sea, exercising control throughout the jurisdiction, and countering all illicit activities at sea.”In her first year as commander of a Coast Guard Station, Lt. Cmdr. Romero led various operations resulting in the seizure of 6 tons of cocaine, and the capture of 17 criminals and seven vessels involved in narcotrafficking, among other accomplishments. Her unit also rescued 37 people in distress, as well as 99 illegal migrants.“She is a woman who achieves her goals, regardless of the difficulties she might face in her job and operations,” said Captain Jorge Enrique Herrera, commander of the Colombian Navy’s Coast Guard. “It isn’t easy for men to follow commands given by a woman in an operational post, but she has broken these paradigms, and they have great respect for her.”As a child, the officer wanted to be a teacher, and she had the chance to fulfill this dream when she worked as dean of the Naval Science School at the Admiral Padilla Naval Academy of Cadets, and as an instructor at the Colombian Air Force’s Marco Fidel Suárez Military Aviation School. Her other roles included head of the Logistics Department on the ship ARC Cartagena de Indias and chief of operations for the ship ARC Providencia.The officer’s current role is not her first milestone: Lt. Cmdr. Romero was part of the first graduating class of women in the Executive Corps, consisting of people trained to command and lead naval operations, roles previously reserved for men.“[In the year 2000] when we entered the institution, they told us we might be able to become commanders, sail, and command ships,” said Lt. Cmdr. Romero. “At that moment, we began to see things from a different perspective, and many of us decided that we wanted to become commanders. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I thought, ‘I want to be a commander; I want to make a contribution to my country.’”last_img read more