FPL wins initial approval for new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point

Florida state leaders and Public Utility Commission have approved Florida Power & Light Company’s (FPL) request to build two new nuclear reactors, reports Reuters. Tuesday’s approval marks an important milestone for the proposed project, which will be located at FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear facility on Biscayne Bay, just south of Miami.

Project plans for Turkey Point 6 & 7 include the addition of two 1,100 megawatt reactors, 88 miles of associated electrical transmission lines and other related facilities. For the new units FPL has selected the Westinghouse Advanced Passive Reactor design (AP1000).

According to FPL, Turkey Point 6 & 7 would create a substantial economic stimulus to Miami-Dade County and local communities during construction and operation. The utility estimates the new reactors would provide more than $100 million annually in property tax revenue, 3,600 jobs during peak construction, and 800 positions once operational.

In spite of FPL’s expressed project related benefits, Turkey Point 6 & 7 has met with some strong opposition from surrounding communities. One primary concern is cost recovery for the project. FPL currently estimates costs for Turkey Point 6 & 7 at between $12.8 billion to $18.7 billion – a hefty price tag in a state that is among several to allow utilities to recover costs associated with future projects and upgrades to be billed to current costumers.

"The problem is cost recovery," Brad Ashwell, of the Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection told Reuters. "Consumers are paying for projects they may never see completed, and never get their money back.”

The road ahead is a long one for both supporters and opponents of the new reactors.  Construction cannot begin on Turkey Point 6 & 7 until it receives clearance from federal regulators, which means operations are not projected to begin until 2022 at the earliest.

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