Florida Power & Light Co.’s quest to receive a federal license to build two new nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point Power Plant has experienced yet another delay, but the company wants to charge another $22 million in pre-licensing costs to customers in 2017.
FPL spokesman Peter Robbins said Thursday the company is not releasing its new projected construction schedule due to uncertainty related to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requiring an evidentiary hearing on the proposed injection of reclaimed water into deep wells at the site. Last year, the company said the reactors would be built in 2027 and 2028.
By the end of the this year, FPL customers will have paid $281 million in pre-construction and pre-licensing costs for the proposed reactors which, if approved, would join two existing nuclear reactors at the plant 25 miles south of Miami.
If the $22 million is added to that, customers will have paid more than $303 million by the end of next year towards the reactors known as units 6 and 7. The reactors have yet to be licensed and might never be built.
The company filed the request with the Florida Public Service Commission Wednesday, and the issue will be heard in the fall, Robbins said.
This year a customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month is paying 34 cents a month towards the cost of the two reactors, and that would drop to 23 cents in 2017.
“The federal process has been delayed again. We had expected to obtain the license in early 2017,” Robbins said. “The earliest we could get the license would be late 2017.”
On April 21 the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued an order requiring an evidentiary hearing. There’s a dispute over whether injecting wastewater into the ground could adversely impact groundwater in the Upper Floridan Aquifer.
FPL wants to use treated wastewater to cool the two reactors, then inject the water into wells 3,000 feet deep in the Boulder Zone of the Lower Floridan Aquifer. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the National Parks Conservation Association and two individuals challenged FPL’s license application. Their expert testified that the water could migrate to the Upper Floridan Aquifer and degrade drinking water
The board wrote in its order that it could not at this stage… “choose a winner in this battle of experts.”
No date has been set for the hearing.
In 2007, FPL suggested the two new units would come online in 2018 and 2020, and last year said the reactors would be in service in 2027 and 2028. Last year’s estimate placed the cost as high as $20 billion.
FPL officials are also closely watching construction of two reactors at Georgia Power’s Vogtle plant, the first new reactors being built in the U.S. in three decades.
The Turkey Point plant is between Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park. The cooling canal system for the two existing reactors has been linked to discharges of contaminated water into Biscayne Bay.