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  Tuesday, October 8, 2002

 Local News


Restart of D-B pushed back
Early next year possible


Staff writer


CARROLL TOWNSHIP -- FirstEnergy has pushed back its planned power-up date for Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station to a vague "early next year," vs. its initial date of Dec. 7.

And company officials are estimating repair costs could rise another $115 million more than originally anticipated, possibly topping out the total estimated amount spent on Davis-Besse at nearly $400 million.

The reason?

Additional work at the plant, plus anticipated reviews by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- which isn't expected to be a lightning-fast process -- all contribute to the delay, according to FirstEnergy officials.

The company released the update Monday on its Web site.

The Lake Erie-shoreline plant has been off-line since a routine refueling outage that started in February. During that outage, workers found a football-sized hole in the reactor head caused by boric acid corrosion.

The problem is unlike any other seen by an American power plant, and the NRC has been watching closely over the utility's progress toward fixing the root causes of the corrosion.

Some of the costs associated with the additional work cited for the delay are to fix problems found after detailed inspections inside the containment building where the reactor is housed.

For example, the company initially estimated paying between $50 million and $70 million to return the plant to service.

Now, it's looking at an additional $65 million in 2002.

Another estimated $50 million will be spent in 2003, but much of that will occur after the plant is back up and running, officials reported.

Also, there's between $120 million to $160 million to buy replacement energy through the end of the year while the Davis-Besse plant is off-line.

The company is also accelerating many of its maintenance projects that it was planning for future outages to get them out of the way now -- which is ringing up another $27 million.

In fact, the only price that hasn't changed is the $55 million to $75 million to replace the reactor head with an unused one from a Midland, Mich., plant that never started.

The additional costs, however, will not all be passed on to customers.

Stockholders are expected to absorb much of the repair costs, which is expected to reduce 2002 earning by between 46 cents and 53 cents per share of common stock.

WNSHIP -- FirstEnergy has pushed back its planned power-up date for Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station to a vague "early next year," vs. its initial date of Dec. 7.

And company officials are estimating repair costs could rise another $115 million more than originally anticipated, possibly topping out the total estimated amount spent on Davis-Besse at nearly $400 million.

The reason?

Additional work at the plant, plus anticipated reviews by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- which isn't expected to be a lightning-fast process -- all contribute to the delay, according to FirstEnergy officials.

The company released the update Monday on its Web site.

The Lake Erie-shoreline plant has been off-line since a routine refueling outage that started in February. During that outage, workers found a football-sized hole in the reactor head caused by boric acid corrosion.

The problem is unlike any other seen by an American power plant, and the NRC has been watching closely over the utility's progress toward fixing the root causes of the corrosion.

Some of the costs associated with the additional work cited for the delay are to fix problems found after detailed inspections inside the containment building where the reactor is housed.

For example, the company initially estimated paying between $50 million and $70 million to return the plant to service.

Now, it's looking at an additional $65 million in 2002.

Another estimated $50 million will be spent in 2003, but much of that will occur after the plant is back up and running, officials reported.

Also, there's between $120 million to $160 million to buy replacement energy through the end of the year while the Davis-Besse plant is off-line.

The company is also accelerating many of its maintenance projects that it was planning for future outages to get them out of the way now -- which is ringing up another $27 million.

In fact, the only price that hasn't changed is the $55 million to $75 million to replace the reactor head with an unused one from a Midland, Mich., plant that never started.

The additional costs, however, will not all be passed on to customers.

Stockholders are expected to absorb much of the repair costs, which is expected to reduce 2002 earning by between 46 cents and 53 cents per share of common stock.

Originally published Tuesday, October 8, 2002

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