One aspect of American culture I’ve never taken to is the DIY (do it yourself) approach to home repair / improvement. I attribute that to the fact that I did not grow up seeing DIY being practiced by our family or anyone else I knew.
I grew up in Asia, where it was very cheap to hire someone to do a manual labor job. So DIY had no appeal from a “savings” perspective. Nor does it have any appeal from a “I did that” perspective. Probably because manual labor is very low in my value scale.
Even if DIY had “cost” or “I did that” appeal, there’s the issue of competence. I value efficiency and if I lack competence in something then it’s unlikely I’ll do it efficiently. Better to hire someone who can do the task competently and efficiently than for me to spend hours hoping I do the job right or, worse, end up having to hire someone whose price may be higher to fix my mistakes than if I’d hired them to begin with.
Nevertheless, there are lots of folks who prefer to try the DIY approach. Until they realize their optimism exceeded their competence. Which brings me to the title of this post…
Duke Power has announced that it will shut down the nuclear power plant in Crystal River, Florida, after four years of trying to fix a botched upgrade. Progress Energy (which owned the plant before it merged with Duke Power) decided in 2009 that it could save $15 million on the project by taking a DIY approach without supervision by an experienced firm.
A problem developed during the project and the attempt to fix that problem led to a bigger problem. The plant was then shut down “temporarily” and has never operated since 2009.
Duke Power has now decided that it’s better to just “retire” the plant. Full decommissioning will take 40 to 60 years. Most of the plant’s 600 workers will lose their jobs. Duke Power customers (and fortunately I am not one since my city operates its own power utility) will foot the over one billion (that’s not a typo) in costs the plant incurred since shutting down in 2009. Not to mention another one billion to construct a new power plant.
Duke Power? It will pocket about $100 million from the fiasco because of how the “regulations” work.
And the then Progress Energy CEO who decided to take the DIY approach without competent supervision? In China, he’d probably have been stood against a wall and executed. In Japan, he’d probably have had to resign in disgrace.
But in America, the rules are different. When Progress Energy merged with Duke Power, he became CEO of the merged company… for one day, after which he was fired. But that one day allowed him to collect $10 million in severance pay. He’s now the CEO, with a $4 million salary, of the largest federal power provider – the Tennessee Valley Authority. Which means he’ll earn a nice federal government pension.
And remember, don’t try this at home!