Moves for more nuclear in Florida

11 March 2008

Progress Energy has submitted a filing to the Florida State and Public Services Commission outlining its proposal to build a new two-unit nuclear power plant in order to meet its needs for additional electricity. Meanwhile, the commission has accepted the need for new nuclear units at Turkey Point.


If approved and built, Progress Energy's plant at Levy County would be one of the first to be built at a new site in the USA for over 30 years, and would also involve one of the single largest transmission infrastructure projects ever seen in Florida.


Progress Energy Florida CEO Jeff Lyash described an investment in nuclear power as an investment in Florida's energy future. "Nuclear power represents the best option we have for baseload generation - operating safely and efficiently day and night - to meet our customers' steady demand for electricity," he said.


Florida is already home to five operating nuclear units, including Progress’s own 838 MWe Crystal River plant. Progress selected the nearby Levy County site as a potential location for a new plant in 2006. It plans to build two Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactors (PWRs) at the site, looking towards start-ups in 2016-2017 if plans continue to move forward and federal and state regulatory approval are granted.


According to the new filing, the total cost of the project will be about $14 billion for the two nuclear units plus a further $3 billion for the transmission facilities, including land, plant components, financing, construction, labour, regulatory and fuel costs. Also included are the 200 miles of new transmission lines and other facilities needed to integrate the plants with the company’s existing transmission system. "This is a significant financial investment for our company, but the benefits are also significant," said Lyash.


State approval


Now that Progress has formally made its filing, known as a Petition for Determination of Need, public hearings will be scheduled for later in the year by the Florida Public Services Commission. The PSC would then consider the application and issue a recommendation, either in favour of the project or not.


That stage was reached with the Florida PSC yesterday by Florida Power & Light (FPL), when the PSC issued a positive recommendation for two more nuclear units at its Turkey Point power plant. The PSC decided that new nuclear power reactors would be a cost-effective way to satisfy a 'reliability need' around 2018-20. "Nuclear generation would also provide a non-carbon emitting source of baseload power to satisfy the continued growth of Florida's energy needs," said the PSC.


Next steps for both companies would be the filing of a Site Certification Application with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a Combined Operating Licence (COL) application with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


In February, Progress filed a COL application for the construction of two new units at its Harris nuclear power plant in North Carolina.