City OKs settlement over Crystal River plant

Published: Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 10:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 10:01 p.m.

The City Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a settlement agreement with Duke Energy over the broken down nuclear plant in Crystal River.

Gainesville Regional Utilities owned a 1.4 percent stake in the plant and also had a contract to purchase wholesale power from the generating station.

The plant has been offline since fall 2009 after workers cracked a concrete containment dome when trying to replace a steam generator.

In February 2013, Duke announced it would retire the plant. After that, GRU was one of eight municipal owners and seven utilities having purchased wholesale power from the plant that entered settlement negotiations with Duke. Every utility will have to approve the settlement for it to go through, Interim GRU General Manager Kathy Viehe said Thursday.

The settlement was broken down into several parts. Under it, GRU will receive about $9.56 million from a settlement payment to the minority owners of the plant and $618,534 from a settlement paid to the purchasers of wholesale power.

GRU also receives a $92,757 refund for an overpayment of its share of decommissioning costs and a $219,706 refund of money that went to operating and maintenance expenses.

Duke also waived a $13.6 million liability it said the other utilities owed for upgrade and repair costs.

GRU transfers its ownership stake to Duke and Duke receives $11 million that GRU has paid into a trust fund over time to cover Gainesville’s obligation for the plant’s decommissioning costs. That money goes toward Duke's total decommissioning costs, which are projected to be about $1.2 billion. That decommissioning process is expected to take six decades.

The Florida Municipal Power Association represented the utilities in their negotiations with Duke. Gainesville paid the FMPA $77,450 to represent the city in those negotiations.

City Commissioner Craig Carter asked if the utility could use money from the settlement to provide some rate relief to electric customers. Viehe said she planned to bring that option to commissioners.

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