Florida and California ponder nuclear future

10 July 2007

Nuclear plans and possibilities are under discussion in both the Sunshine State and the Golden State. A state advisory committee is suggesting that Florida should consider building a nuclear waste recycling facility as well as new nuclear power plants. California's state energy commission is reviewing the prospects for new nuclear plants despite a moratorium on new build.

The Florida Energy Commission's advisory committee on energy supply and delivery is "likely" to recommend that nuclear be a big part of the state's future plans, according to press reports, and the state should consider building more nuclear power plants as well as looking into the possibilities offered by recycling used nuclear fuel. The question of the used fuel disposal came up for discussion at the advisory committee's 9 July meeting. "Do we want to put [it] into salt mines for all eternity or do we want to make use of it as a fuel?" committee chairman Sam Bell asked. Two utilities currently have plans to build new nuclear units in Florida. Florida Power and Light plans to submit a licence application for a new unit, possibly at its existing Turkey Point site, in 2009. Meanwhile, Progress Energy is looking at a greenfield site in Levy County, and has plans to submit a licence application in 2008.

The potential for new nuclear build is also up for discussion on the west coast. Since 1976, the state of California has prohibited the building of new nuclear power plants until such time as the California Energy Commission is satisfied that the US "has approved and there exists" technology and means for the disposal of used nuclear fuel and high-level waste. There is much discussion as to whether sufficient progress has been made in reprocessing technology to enable the ban to be rescinded, and an unsuccessful attempt was made earlier this year to get the state legislature to lift the moratorium. A corporation formed at the end of 2006, Fresno Nuclear Energy Group, is considering building a new nuclear plant in California if the moratorium is lifted.

A series of workshops and hearings on the state's Integrated Energy Policy is currently under way, and a workshop on nuclear power issues at the end of June included presentations on a wide spread of nuclear topics including waste management, non-proliferation, economics and climate change. The committee is scheduled to release a draft of its final report in September. All the presentations and a draft consultancy report can be found on the California Energy Commission's web site.

Further information

California Energy Commission 
Florida Energy Commission

WNA's US Nuclear Power Industry information paper

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