After plans for two nuclear plant projects evaporated last week, it was interesting to see two new proposals appear on the boards. Florida Power & Light want two major additions at Turkey point and Xcel is looking for investors to add more nuclear generating capacity. It seems that bad news and the good in the nuclear industry comes in twins.
Florida Power & Light (NYSE:FPL) told regulators in that state this week that it wants to add two new nuclear reactors to its Turkey Point site. The Miami Herald reported that Wade Litchfield, an attorney for FP&L told the Public Service Commission, "Nuclear power is the backbone for FP&L's system." He made his remarks at the opening of a three-day hearing taking place in Tallahassee. The Commission's decision on the regulated utility's request for expansion could come as early as March.
FP&L is reportedly considering two scenarios most likely based on Westinghouse AP1000s. FPL wants to add two reactors at Turkey Point by 2018 and 2020, bringing the utility's number of nuclear plants in Florida to six. FPL's proposals include a 2,200-megawatt plant that could cost between $12 billion and $18 billion, and a 3,000-megawatt project that is likely to cost between $16 billion and $24 billion. Either way the plants would go online by 2018 and 2020 respectively.
These high cost estimates set off a controversy in the industry which is ongoing. A report in the Tampa Tribune on "exploding nuclear costs" drew comments from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) which pointed out that all types of new electricity generating plants, including coal, are costing more.Coal is not an option at this point for FP&L. Utility regulators shot down FPL's proposal to build a 1,900-megawatt coal-fired plant near Moore Haven in Glades County last year because the unknown future cost of carbon was too much of an uncertainty for them.
"I really don't think the state has any options," said David Parker, a Tampa-based utility analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co. "Since we've said no to coal, nuclear has to be adopted, or the state is going to continue to be whipsawed by volatile utility bills."
"Additional nuclear energy can help supply reliable, affordable power to our customers while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions that scientists have determined contribute to climate change," Florida Power & Light President Armando Olivera said in a statement.Xcel looks for investors to add nuclear plants
Utility holding company Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) wants to partner with other utility investors to build new nuclear power plants. CEO Richard Kelly told Reuters last week, that the firm, which owns two nuclear power plants, is not big enough to file a COL with the NRC on its own.
He said, "I certainly hope nuclear is going to be part of our answer going forward." That's corporate speak for 'we can't bet the company on a nuclear power plant, but we're happy to sign up for part of the action with others.'Tim Taylor, Xcel's top Colorado executive, recently told the Denver Post that the utility doesn't have plans to place a plant in Colorado, but "in terms of the nation, nuclear has got to be an option."
Xcel owns two nuclear power plants, the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant and the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant, although both are currently operated by the Nuclear Management Company. Xcel plans to expand both its Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear plants, which provide about a quarter of the electricity that's delivered to customers. In its most recent resource planning report filed with the state in December, Xcel says it's aiming to extend the life and increase output by 71 megawatts at Monticello and 160 megawatts at Prairie Island.
In 2006, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a 20-year license renewal for Monticello from 2010 to 2030. Prairie Island's licenses expire in 2013 and 2014, and Xcel intends to apply for 20-year extensions on both of those reactors.