With the unanimous approval of the state's Siting Board, a project to add two nuclear reactors to a South Florida powerplant has passed a major milestone. Since the project was proposed in 2006, it has survived the 2007-08 financial crisis, the flight from nukes after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, intense environmental scrutiny, local resistance to transmission lines and an eight-week administrative-law court hearing focused largely on the siting of the lines. Ahead lies the arduous effort to get a combined construction and operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) initiated the project eight years ago with a notice to NRC of its intention to apply for two new reactors at the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Florida City. The new units, Turkey Point 6 and 7, would join two 885-MW pressurized-water reactors, two 400-MW gas/oil-fired steam turbines and a 1,150-MW gas combined-cycle unit at the station.
The Florida Public Service Commission approved a determination of need for the new units in 2008, clearing the way for further permitting. The board's May 13 approval is the sole authorization required by Florida law for the project, says Cindy Mulkey, siting coordination case manager for the state Dept. of Environmental Protection. All local and state permits are rolled into one license covered by this approval. The board is composed of Gov. Rick Scott (R) and his Cabinet, consisting of the state's chief financial officer, the attorney general and the agriculture commissioner.
FPL has selected 1,100-MW AP1000 pressurized-water reactors for the new units at a total cost of $12 billion to $18 billion, including 88 miles of new transmission lines, says Peter Robbins, FPL spokesman. They are expected to be in service by 2022 or 2023.
Construction of new nuclear capacity in an urban area abutting two national parks was by far the least controversial aspect of the certification, occupying only three days of the eight-week administrative-law hearing, according to the board. The location of two transmission corridors took up the rest of the hearing.
The 36.7-mile corridor designated the East Preferred Corridor by FPL will contain a single 230-kV transmission line typically using 80- to 105-ft-tall, single-circuit concrete poles directly embedded in the ground, FPL officials say. Aesthetic considerations prompted most of the objections to that line, which will run through an urban area. Local officials wanted it underground at FPL's expense, but state case law precluded that.
The 52-mile West Preferred Corridor, skirting Everglades National Park, will contain a 230-kV line and two 500-kV lines. By negotiation and a land swap, a 7.4-mile-long FPL right-of-way through the park was reduced to about one mile, which was technically unfeasible to route otherwise, says Sara Fain, executive director of the Everglades Law Center.