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Business






Posted on Tue, Mar. 11, 2003
Davis-Besse Replacement Costs Rise

Associated Press

The cost of keeping the troubled Davis-Besse nuclear plant shut down is getting more expensive.

FirstEnergy Corp. said Tuesday that the price of buying replacement power was twice as much as it expected during the unusually cold months of January and February.

The company spent $40 million over the past two months to replace power normally produced at Davis-Besse, which was damaged by an acid leak. The company attributes the price to higher energy demand and increased costs for power on the open market.

FirstEnergy has promised not to pass on the cost of replacement power to its customers while the damaged plant is closed. FirstEnergy said the damage and repairs cost it $235 million last year.

The plant along western Lake Erie has been shut down since February 2002, when it was closed for maintenance. A month later workers discovered a leak that had allowed boric acid to eat nearly through the 6-inch-thick steel cap covering the plant's reactor vessel.

It was the most extensive corrosion ever found at a U.S. nuclear reactor and led to a nationwide review of all 69 similar plants.

The NRC has said the damage ranked at the agency's most serious level for safety problems.

FirstEnergy is pushing to open the plant before the hot summer months when energy usage is at its peak. Keeping the plant closed longer could cost the Akron-based company $15 million a month during the spring and as much as $25 million a month this summer.

But the company is confident it can finish its work next month and restart the plant by the end of April, FirstEnergy spokesman Richard Wilkins said.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials say they have inspections and tests scheduled into May that could get in the way of the company's timeline for restart.

The agency must approve the Davis-Besse plant's improved safety plan and examine the reactor for leaks before it can reopen.

ON THE NET

http://www.firstenergycorp.com/

http://www.nrc.gov/

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