Sunday, July 20, 2008

Progress Energy wins green light for twin reactors

The decision puts Florida on a par with Texas in advancing the U.S. "nuclear renaissance

progressenergyThe 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.

3 comments:

Rod Adams said...

Dan:

To be more accurate, the Tampa Tribune reported that Progress Energy's $17 billion nuclear reactor and transmission infrastructure project received unanimous approval.

You can be forgiven, one has to read all the way down to the bottom of the article for this important nugget:

"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.

It is rare for wind and solar power developers to include the cost of infrastructure enhancements in their advertised project costs, but us nukes seem to be more inclusive and comprehensive in our projected cost estimates.

djysrv said...

Thanks Rod. I've updated the blog post with the additional information. Expanding on your comment, the transmission and distribution infrastructure of a number of markets will require upgrades to be able to deliver power from new nuclear power plants. Public utility commissions in regulated states will be able to support these upgrades, assuming the financial numbers for the rate base make sense. On the other hand, Merchant plants will have to take the current condition of transmission networks into account when they make their plans. The issue of the condition of transmission networks, and the need to upgrade them, is one of the issues that former VP Al Gore got right in his energy speech last week.

Pete said...

The link below shows the location of the proposed plants.

http://www.progress-energy.com/aboutenergy/poweringthefuture_florida/levy/levy_aerial.jpg

It appears they are going with the long and squat cooling towers, (ala Vermont Yankee), rather than the larger and more familiar hyperbolic towers. The cooling tower water supply appears to be a barge canal some distance to the south. It is interesting they are going with a green field location rather than adding onto the nearby Crystal River complex.

- Pete