The decision puts Florida on a par with Texas in advancing the U.S. "nuclear renaissance
The Tampa Tribune reports that Progress Energy's $17- billion nuclear energy and transmission/infrastructure project won unanimous approval July 15 from state regulators, paving the way for the utility to start charging customers for the construction costs associated with plant as early as January 2009.
The Florida Public Service Commission unanimously approved the project. The impact on electric bills will be decided by the commission at a September hearing. The Tribune reports that the new nuclear plant will be among the most expensive construction projects ever undertaken in Florida. The pay-as-you-go plan makes the development of the plants possible and avoids huge risks for investors.
The decision puts Florida head to head with Texas in advancing the U.S. "nuclear renaissance." Progress Energy, based in St. Petersburg, FL, plans to file this summer for a COL from the NRC. Approval will take 42 months. Florida Power & Light is also developing new nuclear reactors making the Sunshine State a magnet for the industry.
Preliminary construction work could begin next year on the 5,100-acre site. The utility needs to build access roads, a barge loading dock in the canal, and a rail line to the construction site.
Progress Energy said in a statement the project is the best way to meet growing power needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"Carbon-free nuclear power is a strategic asset in our statewide effort to become energy-independent, to reduce our reliance on more volatile-priced fossil fuels, and to provide a balanced approach to meet the challenges of growth and climate change," said Jeff Lyash, president and chief executive officer of Progress Energy Florida.
Critics have attacked it as expensive and risky and they are coming at it from a financial perspective rather than one based on environmental values.
"This project has a long ways to go, and there's a lot of money at stake," said Bill Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network. "We think it's a big mistake to raise people's power bills for something that may never be needed."
The utility plans to build two Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors at a cost of $14-billion, plus $3-billion for nearly 200 miles of transmission lines through nine counties. The first reactor is schedule to come on line in 2016, and the second the following year.