Duke seeks NC OK for $459M to prep SC nuke plant

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The man who would head the country's largest electric utility says radiation leaking from a crippled Japanese nuclear plant will force regulators to rethink the industry's future, but it's too early to tell how.

Duke Energy chief executive Jim Rogers testified Tuesday to the North Carolina Utilities Commission as the company seeks approval to spend up to $459 million through 2013 to develop a potential $11 billion nuclear plant in Cherokee County, S.C. South Carolina regulators will take a similar look within months.

The Charlotte-based utility says it won't proceed with the project unless North Carolina changes state law so that Duke Energy can start charging consumers before the nuclear plant is completed.

Legislation hasn't yet been introduced in the legislature. Duke and Raleigh-based Progress Energy have proposed a merger.

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