New Nuclear Generation – Frequently Asked Questions
FPL has proposed constructing two additional nuclear units at its existing Turkey Point generating complex in Miami – Turkey Point Units 6 & 7. FPL received zoning approval for the project from Miami-Dade County on Dec. 20, 2007. FPL also filed a Determination of Need petition with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) on Oct.16, 2007. The petition proposed to expand FPL's nuclear fleet by building two new nuclear units at the existing Turkey Point generating complex, a move that would add 2,200 megawatts of power to the Florida electric grid. On April 11, 2008, the PSC issued a final order approving Turkey Point Nuclear Units 6 & 7.
On June 30, 2009, FPL filed federal and state applications with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to build two new nuclear units at Turkey Point and other associated facilities. The project would emit no greenhouse gases, provide $6 billion in economic benefits to the local economy over the next decade and create as many as 3,600 new jobs during construction and 800 permanent jobs once the proposed plants are completed.
In order to make nuclear power an option in the future, concrete decisions must be made now. Since a project of this size requires such a long lead time and review process, we are applying now to meet a potential in-service date of 2022 for the first new unit.
What is a Combined License Application (COLA)?
A COLA is a federal application filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to request approval for construction and operation of a new nuclear plant.
How long is the application review process?
The review process normally takes approximately 42 months.
Why do you file a Site Certification with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)?
To build and operate a power plant (greater than 75 MW) in the state of Florida, you are required by the Power Plant Siting Act (PPSA) to submit a Site Certification Application (SCA). The SCA serves as the permit application for all state, regional and local approvals. It includes reviews from state, regional and local agencies coordinated by the FDEP. The review and approval process will take approximately 16 months.
Describe the state siting process?
FPL will submit a permitting application to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Following this and other governmental agencies’ review, the application will be evaluated by an administrative law judge during a public hearing. The judge will make a recommendation to the Florida Siting Board, which is comprised of the governor and cabinet. The Siting Board will make the final decision. This process is expected to take approximately 16 months, during which there are numerous opportunities for public involvement.
Will FPL begin construction soon after it receives state and federal approval?
The state and federal licenses and approvals provide FPL the opportunity, but not the obligation, to proceed with construction of the project. Today’s applications are part of a stepwise approach that will create the option to build additional nuclear generation for the benefit of our customers. To that end, we continue to monitor many factors that affect the appropriate timing and cost of the project. Some of the factors include the pace of regulatory reviews; federal and state energy policy initiatives; and the cost and availability of necessary materials, services and labor. At present, the current schedule would have Unit 6 providing electricity by 2022 and Unit 7 by 2023.
How much is the new nuclear project estimated to cost?
We believe Turkey Point 6 & 7 will cost $12 billion to $18 billion. The feasibility of FPL’s nuclear projects is evaluated on a yearly basis by the Florida Public Service Commission, providing assurances that they are in the best interest of our customers. In fact, based on current fuel prices, customers would save approximately $93 billion in fuel costs over the initial 40-year license period of the new plant.
Why do you prefer reclaimed water?
FPL is working with the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) to develop a way to use treated wastewater as cooling water, instead of disposing the treated wastewater into ocean outfalls. Under this plan, Miami-Dade County would produce and deliver up to 90 million gallons daily (75 MGD on average) of treated wastewater to Turkey Point, where it would be further cleaned for use as cooling water for the new nuclear facilities and our existing Turkey Point 5 combined-cycle unit. This creative proposal would enable Miami-Dade County to achieve approximately half of its required goal for reusing water with a single cost-effective project.
By using treated wastewater for cooling, FPL is recycling a vital resource and reducing the amount of water that is currently disposed of by ocean outfall. The water to be used by FPL does not diminish the allocations already made by the county for ecosystem and aquifer storage and recharge projects.
Is there a backup source of water under consideration by FPL?
Radial Collector Wells would provide water from the marine environment when reclaimed water is not available. The wells are respectful of the unique environment in the region and specifically designed to have no adverse environmental impact. In this way, FPL can maximize the use of reclaimed water from the county in a cost-effective and reliable way.
I understand that you also filed a Site Certification Application that included four new transmission lines. Can you tell me about that?
The Site Certification Application includes four new transmission lines that will help improve the overall reliability of the infrastructure that delivers electricity to South Florida and Miami-Dade County. The transmission corridors that FPL submitted in its application are based on many months of assessment and dialogue with the community. The selection of the new transmission corridors are based on input from our customers, agencies and local governments while also balancing land use, environmental, safety and engineering/cost issues.
Did FPL consider the public's input when selecting the corridors?
For a period of eight months, FPL solicited comments from customers, agencies and local governments about which routes they preferred for the new transmission lines. We met with civic leaders and elected officials and held open houses where our customers learned about the project. The selected corridors represent the best choice as determined by the recommendations of our customers and government partners. Additionally, as we proceed, the process allows for consideration of alternative corridors for the transmission lines.
When and why did FPL file for a Determination of Need with the Florida Public Service Commission?
On April 11, 2008, FPL received from the Florida Public Service Commission an affirmative Determination of Need for the construction of two additional nuclear generating units at FPL's existing Turkey Point power plant site. The need petition establishes the PSC's agreement that additional power is required to provide reliable, cost-effective power to FPL's customers, and that they approve of nuclear technology as a cost-effective source of power. It also begins a collaborative process with the PSC to approve and regularly evaluate the project for feasibility. The project will now be evaluated on a yearly basis, providing the PSC and our customers with assurances that it is cost-effective and prudent to continue.
Energy efficiency and renewable resources
Why not offset the demand with conservation efforts?
Energy conservation does play an important role in addressing growing demand. In fact, FPL customers have helped defer the need for 13 power plants during the past two decades and our nationally recognized energy-efficiency programs will offset about 26 percent of expected demand growth through 2015. Even so, energy conservation alone will not be enough to meet Florida's rapidly growing energy appetite.
Have you considered other technologies such as renewables?
Yes. We are committed to providing clean energy solutions to power our future and will continue our leadership as one of the country's cleanest, most environmentally conscious energy producers. That is why FPL is investing now to prepare for our electrical needs of tomorrow, with a balanced energy approach that includes renewables, nuclear and natural gas energy, reflecting our commitment to diversify and maximize energy resources, as well as protect our environment and our economy.
Why is FPL considering potential new nuclear units?
Nuclear power is a reliable and affordable energy source that is capable of providing large amounts of electricity to meet Florida's increasing energy needs. Using nuclear energy means greater energy independence for Floridians, protecting us and our economy from being too reliant on any one source of fuel, including foreign oil. Nuclear power is a clean energy source that does not produce greenhouse gases. And finally, nuclear plants have been a proven power source for FPL customers for more than 35 years. They are also secure, since they are designed and operated with extensive safety and security guidelines to protect the public.
How does nuclear power help address reliability and fuel diversity to keep electric prices stable?
Nuclear power is a reliable and affordable energy source capable of providing large amounts of electricity to meet Florida's increasing energy needs. Nuclear power plants reliably run 24/7 and operate for an average of 18 months before needing to refuel. The proposed facilities for Turkey Point Units 6 & 7 would add 2,200 MW of low-cost generation to our system.
Nuclear power becomes a key player in a balanced and diverse approach to energy policy because of its low production costs and its ability to lessen our dependence on any one fuel source. Nuclear energy is projected to provide the lowest overall cost of electricity of any technology. This is largely due to very low fuel costs and no emission compliance costs. This includes costs to store used fuel and decommission the plant at retirement. Building a new nuclear plant requires a higher upfront investment than other technologies. It's like investing in a high-end air conditioning unit; initially it may cost more to purchase, but once the unit is in operation, it can quickly lower your electric bill. Nuclear energy means greater energy independence for Floridians, protecting us and our economy from being too reliant on any single source of fuel.
How will the addition of new nuclear power plants impact the environment?
Nuclear plants generate electricity without producing any greenhouse gases, so it is a technology that is available today to fight global warming and keep our air clean. In fact, over the years nuclear power has been key in avoiding large quantities of emissions. Approximately 22 percent of the electricity used by FPL customers comes from nuclear generation. FPL's nuclear units have, in effect, reduced emissions across FPL's system by about 30 percent, and in 2006 avoided more than 15 million tons of CO2 emissions that would otherwise have been produced using fossil fuels. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that's the equivalent of taking more than 4 million cars off the road each year.
What impact would the potential new nuclear facility have on the environment?
Building a potential new nuclear generating facility here makes use of an existing plant site and minimizes the impact to the environment. More than 5,000 acres of the Turkey Point property would continue to be a haven for unique plant species and endangered or threatened birds and animals.
What effect does the power plant have on the American crocodile that lives in the canals?
Cooling canals have provided a safe haven for the American crocodile, which recently was down-listed from endangered to threatened. In a biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on May 5, 2006, the increase in the American crocodile population in South Florida over the last 25 years has been attributed to FPL's management activities in the cooling canals.
The number of hatchlings increased from 20 in 1978 to more than 250 in 2006, and the total crocodile population is now about 400. This unique habitat has attracted national attention on documentaries by CNN Headline News, Disney, Animal Planet and National Geographic. FPL is committed to continue protecting the species and conducting crocodile research while encouraging ongoing public education.
How many endangered species live near the plant? Does the new nuclear facility threaten these species?
More than 60 species of birds and animals and 21 species of fish have a safe haven on the Turkey Point property. The proposed expansion of this facility will likely provide additional environmental benefits to the surrounding area. An example is our recent addition of Unit 5, which resulted in the restoration of a coastal lagoon area. Created with state and local agencies, Scout Lagoon is now a healthy and vital natural habitat for a wide range of plants and animals.
I’ve heard that FPL is preserving land near Turkey Point. Can you explain that program?
FPL has established the Florida Everglades Mitigation Bank, where nearly 13,500 acres of wetlands are being returned to their natural, historical condition. This area is home to more than 38 species of wildlife, including 12 endangered and nine threatened species. Many years ago, FPL purchased this land and zoned the site for future power plant expansion. We believe that preserving this site as a mitigation bank will best serve Florida citizens and our company goals because of the ecological value of the site.
What kind of nuclear technology is proposed for the potential new nuclear generating facility?
After carefully reviewing the options, FPL chose an advanced design from Westinghouse called the AP 1000 as its preferred technology. The Westinghouse reactor has received Design Certification from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is based on a proven design that provides safe, reliable and cost-effective generation today. FPL has not signed a contract. We are currently discussing the scope of the work, the cost and the schedule with Westinghouse.
Key features of modern reactors include:
Standardized designs to expedite licensing, reduce capital cost and reduce construction time
Simpler designs with improved safety features
Higher availability and longer operating life
Minimal effect on the environment, and
More efficiencies in fuel consumption that will result in lower fuel costs.
How much nuclear-based capacity does FPL currently have?
At present, the four nuclear units in FPL's fleet provide more than 3,000 MW of energy. This represents 22 percent of the energy FPL currently provides to its 4.5 million customer accounts, or approximately 8 million people in Florida. FPL will be increasing its existing capacity by 414 MW through improvements to the existing equipment.
What is FPL’s experience with nuclear power?
FPL has nearly 35 years of experience in the safe and secure operation of nuclear reactors. The company currently operates four nuclear reactors in Florida: two at Turkey Point and two at the St. Lucie generating complex near Fort Pierce. NextEra Energy Resources, FPL’s sister company, owns significant interests in the Seabrook Station plant in New Hampshire, the Duane Arnold Energy Center in Iowa and Point Beach Nuclear Generating Station in Wisconsin.
What impact will this have on my bill?
The impact will be negligible. Customers will see small increases in their bills while a nuclear plant is in the planning and construction phase – the impact for 2009 is approximately 2 percent – but those costs are more than offset by fuel savings over the life of the plant. Nuclear power is an investment in the future. By paying modest amounts now, we ensure a future of abundant clean energy at low, stable prices.
What new transmission facilities will be needed to connect the new units to the electrical grid that serves FPL customers?
Turkey Point Units 6 & 7 would be connected to the electrical grid using a combination of existing lines and a limited number of new transmission lines, substations and switchyards, as required to deliver safe and reliable power to our customers. Transmission lines would be connected from the plant through corridors, most of which FPL already owns, or for which FPL holds the easements.
Where exactly is the proposed site?
The facility is in southern Miami-Dade County, about 25 miles south of Miami.
Why was this particular site chosen?
FPL conducted an extensive evaluation of more than a dozen sites before selecting Turkey Point as a potential site for a new nuclear power plant. Among the benefits of this site are:
Placing additional generating capacity by building Units 6 & 7 at Turkey Point would help to meet a growing demand for electricity in urban South Florida.
Additional generation there helps balance electric demand and strengthens reliability.
FPL could make efficient use of a small portion of the existing 11,000-acre site and minimize the impact on Florida's land and water resources.
FPL currently operates two existing nuclear units, two oil/gas units and has recently completed a natural gas-fired combined-cycle unit at Turkey Point. The site already has much of the necessary infrastructure in place including transmission lines, electrical switchyard, roads and buildings.
Would Miami-Dade County residents receive electricity from the potential new nuclear facility at Turkey Point?
Yes. However, since FPL’s electric grid is interconnected, all of FPL’s electric customers would benefit from the addition of this safe, clean and reliable source of power generation.
How would a potential new nuclear generating facility at Turkey Point benefit the local economy?
The new nuclear facilities at Turkey Point would offer a substantial economic stimulus to Miami-Dade County and the local community during construction and operation, through payroll, property taxes and local service contracts and purchases worth millions of dollars. There would be job opportunities for thousands of skilled workers during construction. Once completed, the new facility would result in hundreds of additional full-time, high-wage jobs.
Would these jobs be available to Miami-Dade County residents?
Yes. FPL is committed to workforce development and to providing employment opportunities for qualified local workers. FPL also would require the contractor responsible for building the plant to advertise jobs locally.
How much will the new facility cost?
Developing and applying a reasonable range of potential factors, FPL’s non-binding cost estimate has determined an overnight capital cost range than can vary from approximately $3,100 to $4,500 per kW.
Public safety and health
Are nuclear plants safe?
Yes. Nuclear power plants are designed and operated with extensive safety and security guidelines to ensure your protection, and have multiple backup safety systems to prevent the potential for human error. Safety is the top priority for FPL's nuclear fleet.
We have been operating nuclear plants safely for more than 30 years. Our nuclear plants are built with extensive safeguards to ensure everyone's safety. Plant operators are highly qualified professionals who undergo extensive training and are routinely tested through certified and accredited programs. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets rigid standards for safety, conducts on-site inspections and requires rigorous and continuous training of personnel. Nuclear power plants are designed to withstand severe impacts from natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes. Turkey Point’s existing nuclear generating units withstood a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
What will you do about used nuclear fuel at the site?
FPL will continue to manage the on-site storage of used fuel safely and reliably as it has for the past 30 years. The used fuel is moved from the reactor and is stored in pools of water inside containment structures. FPL will take steps to expand its onsite storage capability in 2012 using a system known as dry storage, in which the spent fuel is housed in leak-proof concrete containers and stored safely on site. The used fuel will be protected with extensive security measures and will be protected from natural disasters such as hurricanes or fires and from man-made sources, such as jet aircraft. Like all U.S. nuclear power plants, used fuel will be stored temporarily at Turkey Point until the federal government completes a permanent repository for disposal.
How long would it take to build a new nuclear facility once a decision is made to build?
From beginning to end, the siting, licensing and construction of Turkey Point Unit 6 could be completed in 2022 and Unit 7 in 2023.
Will there be opportunities for public input?
Yes. In addition to FPL’s community outreach, there are opportunities for public input through the state licensing process and the federal licensing process with the NRC for new nuclear power plants. There also are comprehensive processes in place for governmental organizations and environmental agencies to review and approve any plans for future nuclear power plants to ensure they meet strict regulatory standards and are protective of the environment.
How can area residents learn more about the potential new nuclear power plant at Turkey Point?
FPL is committed to sharing information about the potential addition of a new nuclear generating facility at Turkey Point with the community. Our outreach efforts include local presentations, updates, a Web site and one-on-one discussions.
Residents can contact FPL: