The company confirmed Thursday that the plant shut down June 13, just six days after a Duke news release declared it operational and one day after reporters took a tour. The plant converts coal to synthetic natural gas and uses it to create electricity. It’s the largest plant of its kind in the world.
Duke officials attributed the shutdown to damaged fans that help vaporize wastewater at the plant. Without them, Duke can’t operate the plant’s two gasifyers.
Duke spokeswoman Angeline Protogere said the plant remained offline for nearly a month. On July 9, the company got one of the gasifyers working again. Since then, the plant has operated only intermittently, she said . . .
Opponents say the problems are proof that Duke declared the project “in-service” prematurely. Doing so would allow Duke to recover repair costs from electricity customers, despite a settlement the company reached with state regulators in December . . .
“This has nothing to do with whether the plant is operational and everything to do with Duke Energy bilking ratepayers for costs they should not be able to recover,” said Kerwin Olson of Citizens Action Coalition.
Protogere said Duke disagrees with the accusation that the company is seeking to take advantage of a loophole in the settlement.
“It all depends on the repair,” she said. “Some of it would be considered construction under the hard cap. Others would be considered operation and maintenance costs.”Meanwhile, Duke announced that it was mothballing a nuclear power plant it has started building north of Orlando, Florida that was projected to cost between $19 and $24 billion. Apparently the utility company owns regulators and state lawmakers in Florida like it does in Indiana because under a state law Florida consumers are still on the hook for the more than $1 billion in costs the company has already spent on the project, which is costing the average Florida customer an additional $5 a month.