[Duke, Associated Press, 20 March] Duke Energy has been granted permission by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to seek rate increases to help cover the costs of planning a new nuclear power plant. The rate increases will help the company recover up to $125 million in costs for planning the facility. Duke asked the NCUC in September 2006 for assurance that its investment to evaluate and develop a nuclear plant in the Carolinas was prudent and that the North Carolina allocable portion of such costs could be recovered in a timely manner. The company's proposed $6 billion William States Lee III plant in Cherokee County, South Carolina, will be jointly owned by Southern Co. The NCUC ruled that it is appropriate for Duke to pursue the development of the project to preserve nuclear generation as an option for customers. Opponents told the commission that state law does not allow a utility to recover power plant costs until the plant is operating. However, Duke said it faced an unacceptable financial risk otherwise.
North Carolina Utilities CommissionWNN: Nuclear "almost perfect choice" for Duke