Duke Energy Florida cancels nuclear project, and will instead invest $6 billion in solar

Duke Energy Florida, the biggest powerhouse of Orlando's three power-providers, has just made a dramatic turn towards solar.

In a statement released this week, the energy behemoth said it will be canceling its long outstanding plans for the Levy Nuclear Plant, and is now putting $6 billion into new solar panels, grids, and other sun-powered projects.

The plans were scrapped Tuesday, aug. 28. following news of Westinghouse Electric Corporation's financial troubles. Westinghouse was a key part of Duke's nuclear strategy—Duke was reportedly set to purchase two of its mega-sized A1000 reactors, before the cost of the reactors ballooned to an out of control $1.3 billion and Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy last March, as reported by Climate Action.

Duke's Levy Plant has been in various forms of production since 2008, when customer's monthly rates were first controversialy raised to pay for it. According to Ars Technica, the project languished amidst regulatory delays and changing market, due to new discoveries of cheap natural gas, and was eventually scrapped in 2013.
Customers won't be receiving any reparations the $800 million sunk into the failed project, although the remaining $150 million in costs associated with the Levy power plant will be paid for by Duke.

Now, with Levy officially cancelled and Duke announcing its big plans for solar, several environmental advocates are hailing the move as a step in the right direction.

Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Dr. Stephen A. Smith, stated "we applaud Duke Energy Florida for working proactively with stakeholders to embrace smart technologies that are both good for consumers and the environment."

Beginning in 2018, Duke's four year rollout of new solar technologies will add an additional 700 MegaWatts of power to their infrastructure. It will include various grid modernisation projects, as well as other projects related to emerging energy technologies, including 500 electric vehicle charging stations and an increased focus on battery storage.

Historically lagging behind other Florida cities in solar implementation, the projects could very well be a boon to Orlando's own green ambitions, such as the Orlando City Council's recent commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050.