Regulator begins look at Crystal River nuclear plant

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Progress Energy Florida’s highly unusual repairs to a Crystal River nuclear-power plant spurred debate Monday about how soon state regulators should begin examining the project and its costs, reports the News Service of Florida. A containment building was damaged in 2009 during work to replace a steam generator at the plant. But as Progress prepared to start operating the plant again early this year, it found other damage to concrete in the building — causing it to plan a massive repair project that is expected to take until 2014 and cost between $900 million and $1.3 billion. State Public Service Commissioner Eduardo Balbis listened to arguments Monday from attorneys for Progress and business and consumer groups about how to handle the case. Under one proposed scenario, for example, the commission could hold hearings next May on at least part of the repairs. Balbis, who is overseeing preliminary issues in the case, said he would make a decision soon. Deputy Public Counsel Charles Rehwinkel, whose office represents consumers in utility issues, said the case poses engineering issues that likely are unprecedented for state regulators. John Burnett, a Progress attorney, said the case has already led to the accumulation of more than 1 million pages of documents.

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