Any plans for two proposed nuclear reactors in the Upstate will be delayed at least three years.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has informed Duke Energy that its decision on two proposed nuclear power reactors in Cherokee County will not be made until at least 2016.
The original target date for approval had been this past March.
A letter to Duke released by the NRC Wednesday says the delay is caused by federal sequestration cuts that are straining the agency’s resources. The letter also lists Duke’s decision last year to change the location of the proposed William S. Lee III Nuclear Generating Station by a few dozen feet.
The letter also notes that seismic information required in response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident will not be submitted until next year. The agency is not allowed to issue any new reactor licenses until it updates some of its waste storage rules, per a court ruling last year.
Duke has not yet said if it will build the reactors, but is moving forward with licensing anyway since the process takes years to finish. The company says the plant would not be operational until the 2020s.
The proposed locations for the two reactors are close to the defunct Cherokee Nuclear Power Plant site near Gaffney. Construction began on that site in the 1970s, but was abandoned after the Three Mile Island accident destroyed the country’s appetite for nuclear power in the 1980s.