Who will pay for gas plant at Crystal River?

Crystal River, Florida -- The public is getting a first look at Duke Energy's newest power-plant proposal for Crystal River and they have a lot of questions.

What it will look like? How long until it's constructed? Jobs? Environmental impacts?

Duke Energy customers are already paying $1.5 billion for repairs and construction at nuclear facilities that will likely never happen.

So when the company announced it would now be building a natural gas-powered plant, some local customers were more than a little skeptical. Not just about the facility, but who will pay for it.

"They're charging us for the nuke complaint we didn't get it they never return the money. What else can I tell you?" said Al Koralewski.

The $1.5 billion already on Duke customers' bills goes toward the Levy County nuclear plant, which may never go on-line and never generate a single kilowatt of power, as well as millions in repairs to the Crystal River nuke plant which the company ended up decommissioning.

The new gas powered plant would likely cost about the same -- $1.5 billion. And who will be billed this time?

"Customers will be charged for the plant once it becomes commercially operational and that will occur on the 2018 time period," said Heather Danenhower, a Duke Energy Spokesperson.

The difference this time, is that because the power plant is gas, not nuclear, Duke cannot charge customers until after it is online and functioning.

Florida law allows energy companies to pre-charge for nuclear facilities.

"I think they should take that money, every penny of it, and put the money we already paid towards that plant," suggested customer Peggy Tschuschke.

"I mean what's that money doing there that we gave them sitting there?" asked Koralewski.

"That money is not sitting in a bank somewhere that money has been spent," said Danenhower.

Duke Energy still needs approval from Florida's Public Service Commission to build the natural gas plant.

A silver lining, says Duke Energy, is the hundreds of construction jobs that will be created if the project get the green light.

They also expect it would create 40-75 permanent positions, and add money to the Citrus County tax base, lost when it shuttered the nuclear plant.

Got questions of your own? Call (800) 510-7435 or visit www.duke-energy.com/CitrusNaturalGas

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