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Rendered previews are "owned" by a specific sequence--in other words, even if you duplicate a sequence and make no changes, it becomes its own entity and has no relation to the rendered previews created in another sequence. There is, unfortunately, no way to avoid rendering again. The only recourse is to simply not create preview files until you achieve your final edit, unless you absolutely have to for checking motion or the results of a specific effect in high quality.
Not the answer you wanted, I'm sure, but 'tis the truth.
Thanks, Colin! This issue seems ripe for attention from the Adobe programmers. It would seem fairly simple for them to create the option of pointing a copied sequence back to existing preview files. My old edit system did it automatically, so I'm spoiled ;-)
Glad to help. If it's something you'd like to see, I encourage you to fill out the feature request form. Not being a programmer, I can't comment on the ease or feasibility of implementing such a feature, but I believe it's a popular request 'round these parts. Adding another voice to the chorus of "gimme-gimme" is about our only recourse when it comes to letting the programming folks know what we want to see.
I feel your pain on this one, though--I came from Avid where precomputes "stuck" when you generated sequence copies. It's always a bit of culture shock when you move from one platform where you took a certain aspect for granted, to another platform where its analog is nowhere to be found.