New Levy plant gets approval

16 July 2008

Public officials voted yesterday that a second new nuclear power plant was required in Florida.


The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) said, "Pursuing nuclear generation helps to diversify Florida's fuel supply and meet the state's growing energy needs." It approved a petition for a 'determination of need' submitted by Progress Energy.


The company is planning to build a new nuclear power plant consisting of two Westinghouse AP1000 reactor units, which would each output 1100 MWe. Progress has bought 2060 ha of greenfield land in Levy County, about 13 km from the Gulf of Mexico, and 16 km north of the existing Crystal River nuclear power plant.


Levy site map 


















(Source: Progress Energy)


The power company will now submit a filing to the PSC for cost recovery, which would allow it to add to electricity customers bills to help pay for the new plant. It will also finalise its application for a combined construction and operating licence, for submission to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. None of these steps would commit Progress to actually build the plant, but each represents a significant investment of time and money ahead of a final decision on building, to be taken "early next year."


A letter of intent was signed in April by Progress and AP1000 providers Shaw and Westinghouse to complete negotiations on an engineering procurement and construction contract for the plant.


Progress said that, given approval for cost recovery, it would begin to add about 3-4% to customers' electricity bills from 2009. The total cost of the Levy project is put at $14 billion, including $3 billion for around 320 km of transmission lines. The headline figure also includes "land price, plant components, financing costs, construction, labour, regulatory fees and reactor fuel for two units."


Once the reactors begin operation, estimated for 2016 and 2017, savings resulting from less use of fossil fuels will amount to $1 billion per year. The AP1000 reactor units could be reasonably expected to operate for over 60 years.


Also in Florida


Florida, which is the USA's fourth-largest state and its third in per-capita energy use, is also set for more nuclear build at Florida Power & Light's (FPL's) Turkey Point plant which is at a similar stage of planning. That project received a determination of need from the Florida PSC in March.


The PSC also approved three other energy projects for cost recovery yesterday. FPL had requested three solar power projects be eligible under legislation to support projects of up to 110 MW of renewables in the state.


FPL will build: 75 MW of solar thermal capacity to offset use of natural gas at the Martin power plant; a new photovoltaic plant at DeSoto which would feature 25 MW of capacity; and a 10 MW photovoltaic installation at Kennedy Space Center.