Duke Energy subsidiary Progress Energy Florida officially closing Crystal River nuclear plant

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. - Progress Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, announced Tuesday that it will retire the Crystal River Nuclear Plant in Citrus County.

The plant has been offline since late 2009 after a crack was discovered in the containment wall.

The nuclear unit, which began operations in 1977, underwent analysis over several months.

The process of repairing the damage and restoring the unit to service resulted in additional problems with other sections of the containment structure in 2011.

Progress Energy and Duke Energy evaluated the ability to successfully repair the unit, the risks associated with any repair and the repair scope as well as the likely costs and schedule, before they decided to close the plant.  

The company is considering alternatives to replace it, including the potential construction of a natural gas-fueled plant.

"We believe the decision to retire the nuclear plant is in the best overall interests of our customers, investors, the state of Florida and our company," said Jim Rogers, chairman, president and CEO of Duke Energy. "This has been an arduous process of modeling, engineering, analysis and evaluation over many months. The decision was very difficult, but it is the right choice."

Alex Glenn, state president of Progress Energy Florida says the employees' futures are being taken into consideration.

"We are working to place as many employees affected by today's announcement in other positions within the company, and we are committed to working with Citrus County to lessen the effects as much as possible," Glenn said .

The company's four coal plants will remain in service in Citrus County. 

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