Report Shows Energy Efficiency and Renewables Are Best Alternatives for Replacing Duke’s Coal and Nuclear Plants

Published Feb 6, 2013

WASHINGTON (February 6, 2013) -- Duke Energy Corp. announced yesterday that it will permanently close the Crystal River nuclear power plant in Florida and is considering constructing a natural gas-fired power plant to replace the power. The utility also plans to keep open coal-fired units at Crystal River. A Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report, “Ripe for Retirement: The Case for Closing America’s Costliest Coal Plants,” showed that those coal-fired units should be considered for closure and replaced with cleaner, lower cost alternatives rather than retrofitting them with modern pollution controls. Another UCS report, “Big Risks, Better Options,” showed that energy efficiency and renewables are cost-effective options for Duke to replace these plants.

Below is a statement by Steve Clemmer, director of energy research at UCS.

“Just as making costly repairs to a damaged nuclear plant isn't in the best interest of ratepayers, neither is retrofitting an old coal plant that endangers public health and the environment. UCS's recent analyses show that Floridians would be better served by replacing these expensive energy sources with more cost-effective alternatives like efficiency and renewable energy that can reliably meet the state's electricity needs while growing the local clean energy industry.

“Natural gas is not the best alternative for replacing these plants. Florida is already heavily reliant on natural gas, which provided over 60 percent of the state’s electricity generation in 2011.  Investing in energy efficiency and diversifying the state’s electricity mix with truly clean energy resources like wind and solar power will provide a hedge against future increases in natural gas prices.

“Energy efficiency is the lowest cost option for Florida.  With a ranking of twenty-ninth in the nation for energy efficiency, Florida has tremendous potential for ramping up investments in energy efficiency, while saving consumers money on their electricity bills.

“State utility regulators should require Duke’s utility Progress Energy Florida to conduct a comprehensive integrated resource planning process that puts energy efficiency and renewables on a level playing field with other supply options to replace these plants.”