Nuclear panel: FPL’s plan to inject wastewater into ground is okay

FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear plant is shown here. The company is seeking to add two more nuclear reactors at the site.

In a blow to those opposed to Florida Power & Light’s license application to build two new nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point plant, a federal panel has agreed that the environmental impact of injecting treated, reclaimed wastewater into deep wells will be “small.”

The proposal calls for millions of gallons of wastewater containing at least four contaminants from the proposed Turkey Point 6 and 7 nuclear units’ cooling system to be injected into 13 deep wells into the Boulder Zone underlying the site overlooking Biscayne Bay south of Miami.

WHAT’S THE CONTROVERSY OVER FPL’S TURKEY POINT COOLING CANALS?

Intervenors have asserted that wastewater injected into the Boulder Zone, which begins at 3,030 feet below ground, could migrate upward to the Middle and Upper Floridan Aquifers. The  Floridan Aquifer System  supplies water to millions of people and is the major source of ground water supply in Florida.

FPL spokesman Peter Robbins said Tuesday, “We’re pleased, but it is one step in a long and detailed process. We continue to seek the federal licenses, and that is still our focus.”

NRC, ARMY CORPS GIVE ENVIRONMENTAL OKAY TO NEW REACTORS

The National Parks Conservation Association, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Miami-Dade residents Capt. Dan Kipnis and Mark Oncavage legally intervened in the federal licensing proceedings in 2010.

Caroline McLaughlin, Biscayne program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association said Tuesday, “From our perspective, the disappointing decision by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board doesn’t change the fact we still have serious concerns about the expansion proposal and its potential threats to Biscayne National Park and Everglades restoration.”

Sara Barczak, SACE’s high risk energy choice program director, said the  intervenors are evaluating whether to appeal the decision.

At a May  hearing in Homestead, the intervenors asserted that the project’s final environmental impact statement is deficient. The chemical concentrations of ethylbenzene, heptachlor, tetrachloroethylene and toluene in the wastewater may adversely impact the groundwater should they migrate from the Boulder Zone to the Upper Floridan Acquifer.

In a 42-page ruling issued July 10, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board said that the NRC staff has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that the environmental impacts of the proposed deep injection wells will be “small.”

The reasons? The wastewater is unlikely to migrate to the Upper Floridan Aquifer, and even if it did the concentration of each of the four contaminants would be below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s primary drinking water standard and would pose no known health risk, the board wrote.

FPL ORDERED TO FIX TURKEY POINT’S SALTY PLUME

McLaughlin said while the NRC panel looked at only one narrow issue involving the proposed new reactors, there is already widespread contamination into the Biscayne Aquifer from the two existing reactors’ cooling canals.

WILL FPL’S FIX TO TURKEY POINT CANALS WORK?

SACE’s expert Mark Quarles argued that FPL needs to conduct seismic-reflection surveys which would provide a better way to show if upward migration could occur. The method has been endorsed by the federal U.S. Geological Survey.

Since the new reactors are not likely to be built before 2031, there is plenty to time to do such studies, Barczak said.

FPL’s Robbins said the company expects the NRC to issue the licenses by the end of this year or early next year. However, FPL plans to pause the project once it receives the license while it continues to observe nuclear construction projects in Georgia and South Carolina.

 

Nuclear regulators inspecting FPL’s Turkey Point plant after small explosion

FPL’s Turkey Point plant overlooks Biscayne Bay.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission began a special inspection Wednesday at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear power plant to assess the failure of a safety-related electrical bus that resulted in the plant declaring an alert.

The plant is located near Homestead, Fla., about 25 miles south of Miami.

Saturday, an electrical fault occurred in a Unit 3 switchgear room, resulting in the loss of a safety related electrical bus — similar to a circuit breaker —  and a reactor trip. Other safety systems functioned as required, ensuring adequate reactor cooling. There was no threat to local residents or the environment, and the alert, the second-lowest NRC emergency declaration, was terminated later that same day.

The electrical fault, which caused an arc flash, or small explosion, also damaged a nearby fire door, which may have left other safety systems vulnerable had there been a fire. A plant worker who was in the room was injured and was treated at a local hospital.

“This was an event that could have had serious safety consequences and we need to know more about what happened and why,” said NRC Region II Administrator Cathy Haney. “We felt a special inspection was warranted to gather more information and also determine if there are generic issues that may apply to other plants.”

FPL spokesman Peter Robbins said Wednesday,”This was an electrical spark that occurred on the non-nuclear side of the power plant.”

Public safety was not compromised, Robbins said.

“This inspection is an opportunity for us to share with the NRC what happened on Saturday and walk through the details, both the equipment performance and the action our operators took,” Robbins said.

The three-member special inspection team will be headed by a senior reactor inspector from the NRC’s Region II office in Atlanta. The team will develop a detailed timeline of the event, review the plant response and operator actions as well as the design and operation of the fire protection features associated with the switchgear room. It will also review the plant’s fire brigade and emergency preparedness response and assess FPL’s actions to determine the root cause of the event.

The on-site portion of the inspection will take several days. A report documenting the results should be issued within 45 days of the completion of the inspection.

 

 

Pro-consumer Florida energy bills would expand solar, repeal nuclear fees

rooftopsolar

A Florida Senate bill filed this week would allow property

owners to generate and distribute solar energy to residents and tenants.

Senator José Javier Rodríguez, D-Miami, this week filed a series of energy-related bills aimed at protecting the environment and protecting consumers’ pocket books.

 

  • SB 456, allowing property owners to generate and distribute solar energy to residents and tenants on their own property. The bill is supported by a broad range of groups including business groups, agricultural interests, and consumer advocates.
  • SB 974, if passed, would create a mechanism to prevent utilities from passing on to customers the cost of remediating environmental damage the utility caused, offered in response to the water contamination issues at Florida Power & Light’s  Turkey Point nuclear power plant in Miami-Dade County.
  • SB 976, if passed, would create a progressive rate schedule for utilities customers by requiring utilities to charge residential customers a 25 percent lower rate for the first 500 kilowatt hours consumed, benefitting low-income and fixed-income residents.
  • SB 1100, if passed, would repeal advanced nuclear cost recovery in Florida, dubbed the “nuclear tax” since it allow utilities to charge for nuclear power plants that may never be built. FPL wants to build two more nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, but has not been granted a license yet.

 “Consumers in Florida continue to subsidize an outdated energy system in Florida that stifles innovation, shuts out competition and hurts our environment — the bills I have filed will address those issues while giving consumers a much-needed break,” Rodriguez said.

 

 

FPL’s Turkey Point fix won’t solve pollution problems, group asserts

FPL's Turkey Point nuclear plant is shown here. The company is seeking to add two more nuclear reactors at the site.
FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear plant is shown here.

Just weeks after Florida Power & Light  began work to clean up an underground plume of extremely salty water and other toxins stemming from its  Turkey Point nuclear plant, a clean energy advocacy group says the plan will not work.

“The solutions that FPL and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection  have proposed will not stop the pollution. It will only clean up the old pollution,” said Laura Reynolds, a consultant for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

In fact, new findings provided by Miami-Dade County indicate water from the cooling canals is likely seeping into Biscayne Bay, Reynolds said this week.

“We have suspected these natural springs to be contributing to the problem for five years,” Reynolds said. “There are natural caverns within the limestone that connect groundwater to surface water. You can’t cover those up or fill those in.”

The plant about 25 miles south of downtown Miami has a two-mile by five-mile unlined cooling canal system adjacent to Biscayne Bay. The system circulates billions of gallons water daily to cool the plant’s two nuclear reactors.

In late September, FPL began a 10-year $206 million project to inject up to 15 million gallons a day of hypersaline polluted groundwater into the boulder zone below the Biscayne Aquifer. The project includes making some of the canals that are not part of the cooling system more shallow.

FPL spokesman Peter Robbins said the company is in compliance with administrative orders issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Miami-Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management.

“FPL continues to work closely with regulatory agencies and key stakeholders to address concerns. The company will ensure our approach meets all requirements set forth by the state’s consent order and the county’s consent agreement and addendum. FPL continues to build on the progress it has already made to improve the water quality of the canals,” Robbins said.

In July SACE and Tropical Audubon Society  filed a federal lawsuit against FPL saying that the discharge of polluted water from its Turkey Point plant’s cooling canals into Biscayne Bay and ground water violates the federal Clean Water Act.

The underground plume extends at least 4 miles west of the cooling canal system and is consuming potential  drinking water supplied from the Biscayne Aquifer to 3 million South Floridians.

Reynolds said that new data obtained from DERM shows that groundwater  is seeping through the porous limestone under the canals and into Biscayne Bay. DERM is still analyzing the water.

Robbins said FPL has not received the new data.

FPL and DERM have been more closely monitoring Biscayne Bay and surface waters connected to it since 2010.

In an amended complaint filed earlier this month, SACE, the Tropical Audubon Society and Friends of the Everglades assert that this year DERM discovered additional “upwellings of groundwater” into Biscayne Bay at new monitoring locations that are flowing at lowtide and during high rain events.

SACE has advocated for FPL to abandon the cooling canal system for cooling towers, which FPL has  said don’t make sense financially or environmentally.  As long as the cooling canals operate, 600,000 pounds of salt is escaping each day into the canals.

“The plan they have in place may actually cause harm,” Reynolds said. “Models that have been run show they will damage the wetlands and Everglades restoration project unless they do it slower to avoid a drawdown of the water table in the area.”

If the work is done more slowly, FPL will not be in compliance with a Florida Department of Environmental Protection consent order issued in June.

 

 

 

 

NRC Turkey Point environmental report was deficient, judges say, but…

FPL's Turkey Point nuclear plant is shown here. The company is seeking to add two more nuclear reactors at the site.
FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear plant is shown here. The company is seeking to add two more nuclear reactors at the site.

Deficient. That’s what a  three-judge panel called a  2014 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff environmental report on Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point  nuclear plant south of Miami. But there’s no need for a do-over, the judges said.

Tuesday, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued a 59-page decision that said the NRC’s assessment failed to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act because of its deficient discussion of saltwater migration, saltwater intrusion and aquifer withdrawals.

To read the decision, go to http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/documents/2016/may/31/read-initial-decision-turkey-point-matter/

However, the judges wrote that the NRC staff will not need to revise the environmental assessment because evidence developed  in the proceeding held in Homestead in January identified the deficiencies.

“This Initial Decision supplements the 2014 EA and thereby satisfies the NEPA obligation to take the requisite “hard look” and also justifies the finding of no significant environmental impact,” the judges wrote.

Turkey Point’s 168-mile unlined cooling canal system loses about 600,000 pounds of salt per day, and the salt seeps into the groundwater. The canals have long been blamed for saltwater intrusion into Biscayne Bay, the Floridan Aquifer and nearby Everglades National and Biscayne National parks.

Citizens Allied for Safe Energy  challenged the NRC’s allowing FPL to increase the cooling system’s temperature limit to 104 degrees from 100.

CASE’s president Barry White, said, “They say we made all of our points, but it leads to no action or change. Is this the way the NRC does things?”

“It really shows how powerless we are against a system where government supports big business,” White said.  “We really have lost control, if we ever had it.”

The 2012/2013 increase in capacity of Turkey Point units 3 and 4, known as an uprate,  is the elephant in the room, White said. Using FPL data, Miami-Dade County found that following the uprate, the canals’ salinity reached three times that of seawater.

“FPL has only brought it down by using billions of gallons of freshwater, an unsustainable fix. And wasting another $50 million of ratepayer money won’t fix it either,,” White said.

The jump to a 104-degree maximum as the upper limit for water temperatures was important because the canals had been as hot as 102 degrees in July 2014, and that meant the company would have to begin shutting down the reactors.

FPL spokesman Peter Robbins said FPL has  taken numerous steps to improve both the immediate and long-term water quality of the cooling canal system, including reducing overall salinity levels and freshening the canals with 14 million gallons of cooler water based on state approval to install a well system.

Earlier this month, FPL officials said customers will pay an estimated $50 million this year alone towards  the cleanup of hypersaline water coming from Turkey Point.

Here’s the chart White is referring to:

 

ccssurfacewater

 

 

Groups object to FPL seeking waiver of nukes feasibility analysis

FPL's Turkey Point nuclear plant is shown here. The company is seeking to add two more nuclear reactors at the site.
FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear plant is shown here. The company is seeking to add two more nuclear reactors at the site.

Florida Power & Light Co. wants to charge customers another $22 million next year for two new nuclear reactors that might never be built, and but doesn’t want to do an analysis of whether the proposed $20 billion project still makes economic sense.

Attorneys for the Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the city of Miami have asked regulators to deny FPL’s request for an exemption from the required analysis. FPL has provided such analyses in the past.

By the end of this year, FPL customers  will have paid $282 million in pre-construction and pre-licensing costs for the proposed reactors known as Units 6 and 7,  which, if approved, would join two existing nuclear reactors at the plant near Homestead.

If the additional $22 million is approved, FPL customers will have paid more than $303 million by the end of next year toward financing the reactors. The reactors have yet to be licensed and might never be built.

FPL said in a filing with the Florida Public Service Commission that  an annual feasibility analysis at this stage would serve no meaningful purpose because FPL plans to only incur costs associated with obtaining and then maintaining its license, permits and certifications from 2017 to 2020.

Performing the extensive economic analysis would be a “substantial hardship and violates principles of fairness,” FPL said in the filing. It anticipates receiving its combined licensed from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its wetland permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by 2017.

Monday, attorneys for the four groups filed objections to FPL’s request for a waiver.

“Depriving the Commission, the Office of Public Counsel and other parties of the feasibility study while simultaneously asking the Commission to allow FPL to recover millions upon millions of dollars from ratepayers is unfair to the Commission and the parties,” FIPUG attorneys Jon Moyle and Karen Putnal wrote.

“The regulator, the Commission, is put in the untenable position of being asked to impose rates for a project unsupported by evidence that the project remains feasible,” FIPUG stated.

Instead, FIPUG suggests that FPL consider withdrawing its request to charge customers for costs associated with the planned reactors. If the PSC grants the waiver, it should require FPL, not FPL ratepayers, to fund the permit and licensing activities.

SACE attorney George Cavros stated in the filing that there is great uncertainty and risk surrounding FPL’s proposed Turkey Point 6 and 7 reactors, and all the financial risk is being borne by its customers.

The in-service dates have been moved three times, most recently to the 2027-28 timeframe.

Public Counsel J.R. Kelly said that the annual  feasibilty analysis serves to safeguard customers from potentially paying millions of dollars over numerous years on a project when the analysis may show it is no longer viable and may be abandoned.

 

 

 

FPL presents Turkey Point hypersaline water removal plan

FPL's Turkey Point plant overlooks Biscayne Bay.
FPL’s Turkey Point plant overlooks Biscayne Bay.

Florida Power & Light Co. is working to develop a plan to  remove hypersaline water near the cooling canal system at its Turkey Point Power plant complex, but Tuesday a Miami-Dade County official called for the company to address saltwater intrusion in general.

Since 2010 the plant’s 2-by-5-mile unlined cooling canal system has been linked to higher phosphorus and ammonia levels in Biscayne Bay and groundwater directly connected to the Biscayne Aquifer. The plant 25 miles south of Miami is between Biscayne Bay National Park and Everglades National Park. It includes two nuclear reactors.

Tuesday, Miami-Dade County Commissioners weighed in on FPL’s proposal to use 3-D groundwater modeling to identify the location of hypersaline water groundwater and develop a plan to safely remove it.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez said that modeling, as evidenced by hurricane modeling, isn’t always accurate.

Lee Hefty, the county’s director of its Department of Environmental Resources Management, agreed that  models are predictive tools and said the county will also require  groundwater monitoring.

Hefty said that while there has been concern about the hypersaline underground plume extending from the plant, there are also worries about saltwater intrusion in general because it could impact drinking water.

Progress is being made, Hefty said, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has indicated it wants to work with county and state agencies to solve the problem.

Giménez said, “We are not just looking to stop this hypersaline plume, we are looking to draw it back.”

» RELATED: Read a letter sent by the superintendent of Biscayne National Park to the EPA and state and county officials

Laura Reynolds, a consultant with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said Tuesday that  FPL’s proposal doesn’t include mitigation for damage to Biscayne Bay or any cleanup to the east to protect the national parks.

If the plan is approved by county and stage agencies, FPL said it will immediately implement it. Airborne Electromagnetic surveys conducted by helicopter have enabled scientists from FPL and other organizations to precisely identify the location of hypersaline groundwater and to develop detailed plans for its safe removal, company officials said.

“We are committed to eliminating our contribution to the high concentration of saltwater in the Biscayne aquifer,” said Randy LaBauve, FPL Vice President of Environmental Services. “The data-driven methodical plan demonstrates our ability to move the hypersaline plume back in an environmentally responsible manner and reverse a situation compounded by numerous environmental factors, including historically low levels of rainfall in 2014 and 2015.”

FPL scientists and engineers submitted the in-depth plan to DERM, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, and the South Florida Water Management District on Monday.

In addition to its long-term strategy to draw back the saltwater to the boundaries of Turkey Point, FPL will soon begin utilizing saltier water from wells being drilled to extract water from the Floridan Aquifer.

The Floridan Aquifer sits beneath the less-salty Biscayne Aquifer, which is the source of drinking water for 3 million South Floridians.

FPL officials have repeatedly stated that the recent hyper-salinity issue involving the cooling canal system has not had any adverse impact to drinking water, safety or public health. They have also said will there be any lasting adverse impact on Biscayne Bay.

Reynolds disagreed, saying that for the last 40 years the plant’s cooling canal system has been discharging pollutants into the groundwater, and now that groundwater is in the surface waters of both the national parks.

While the underground saltwater plume has not reached water being currently used for drinking water, Reynolds said it has seeped into drinking water supplies that could have been used in the future, but now cannot be.

“The areas that are contaminated we will never be able to drink. It is just not what we are currently consuming,” Reynolds said. “It is misleading for them to say everything is okay.

 

NextEra shareholders meeting set for Thursday in Oklahoma City

NextEra Energy, Inc. logo. (PRNewsFoto/NextEra Energy, Inc.)

For the fourth year in a row, NextEra Energy Inc.,  headquartered in Juno Beach, plans to hold its annual shareholder meeting outside of Florida.

The meeting is scheduled to begin Thursday at 9 a.m. Eastern Time  at Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City.

A live webcast can be accessed at NextEraEnergy.com, by clicking the link provided on the home page.

“We’re a Fortune 200 company that has a very substantial presence in many states, including Oklahoma where we’ve made capital investments of approximately $3 billion through 2015,” NextEra spokesman Rob Gould said. “In fact, we own and operate 12 existing wind farms, generating approximately more than 1,300 megawatts of clean power and have two other wind projects in development.”

In 2015 NextEra, the parent company of Florida Power & Light Co., held its shareholders meeting in  Colorado Springs, and it was over in just 20 minutes. In 2013 the event that lasted 22 minutes was held in Dallas, making the  first time in the company’s history it was held outside Florida. In 2014 shareholders met in Indian Wells, Calif., and the event lasted 14 minutes.

The meetings outside the state have been a sharp contrast to those held in Juno Beach in 2012 and earlier in Palm Beach County because no shareholders stepped up to the microphone to ask any questions after CEO  Jim Robo gave a brief overview of FPL and NextEra.

When the annual meeting was held in Juno Beach, as many as 100 shareholders, most of them also FPL customers, attended, and asked the company’s executives questions about everything from its billing policies and rates to its nuclear plants. Protestors often picketed outside over various issues such as power plants. Time would run out before all the shareholders questions were answered.

In 2012  a dozen people disrupted the meeting inside the conference room and were removed after they chanted about executive compensation and tax credits.

Among the items on Thursday’s agenda is a proposed resolution from Coral Gables-based shareholders Alan Farago and Lisa Versaci on projected sea level rise and climate change impacts.

The proposal states that the company is using the lowest estimate of sea level rise for  two new reactors proposed for its Turkey Point plant south of Miami, predicting less than a foot by 2100.

The resolution seeks to require NextEra to report material risks and costs of sea level rise scenarios projecting forward to 2100, according to the  best available science, to make the report available to shareholders and investors by Dec. 1, 2016 and to prepare such a report annually at reasonable cost and omit proprietary information.

NextEra’s board opposes the proposal saying, among other reasons, that the proposal calls for a report that would require the company to speculate on events and the operations more than 80 years in the future and would be a waste of time and money.

The company said that the proposal incorrectly states the assumptions made by the company with respect to sea level rise. If approved, the new reactors would be built more than 25 feet above current sea level, well above any predicted rise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FPL: Turkey Point cleanup to cost an estimated $50 million in 2016

FPL's Turkey Point plant overlooks Biscayne Bay.
FPL’s Turkey Point plant overlooks Biscayne Bay.

Florida Power & Light Co. customers will ultimately shell out an estimated $50 million this year alone for the cleanup of hypersaline water coming from the company’s Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami.

Peter Robbins, spokesman for Juno Beach-based FPL, said Monday the cleanup includes drilling  extraction wells to remove the hypersaline water  west of Turkey Point and removing hypersaline water in four isolated channels in Biscayne Bay.

» RELATED: Read more Palm Beach Post coverage of FPL

The underground plume of hypersaline water extends for miles in all directions from the plant near Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park. The plume is considered to be a threat to drinking water from the Biscayne Aquifer.  The plant is cooled by a 5,900-acre network of unlined cooling canals.

Plans to fix the problem FPL has known about for six years are not yet finalized with Miami-Dade County and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Robbins said. Both the county and state have issued violation notices to FPL over the contaminated water.

On April 21, DEP issued a Final Order to FPL that recognized issues of environmental concern raised during an Administrative Hearing regarding the operations of the cooling canal system at the Turkey Point Power Plant, DEP spokeswoman Jess Boyd said Monday.

The Order also expressed the department’s commitment to consider and further evaluate actions as necessary. Last week, DEP took two additional actions to address these concerns by issuing a Notice of Violation and a separate Warning Letter.

The Notice of Violation addresses noncompliance with FPL’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Industrial Wastewater Permit, which prohibits cooling canal discharges from violating minimum water quality criteria for groundwater.

Under the Notice of Violation, FPL will be required to enter into a Consent Order with the department within 60 days, which will specify corrective actions FPL will take. DEP issued the Warning Letter to further investigate potential migration of cooling canal system water toward surface waters connected to the Bay. Through this process, DEP will determine if any additional violations have occurred, Boyd said.

Randy LaBauve, FPL vice president of environmental services said  FPL is now using data from surveys conducted by helicopter to more accurately locate the hypersaline water. It’s also collecting data from dozens of monitoring stations.

“A data-driven, science-based approach ensures that we’re taking the right actions at the right time to improve the situation. While it will take time to reverse the hypersaline plume in an environmentally responsible manner, this new data will help us achieve faster results and allow us to leverage the progress we are already making,” LaBauve said.

In addition to the plan to remove hypersaline water, FPL is using brackish water from the Floridan aquifer in the cooling canal system to help keep salt levels in the cooling canals in balance with the salinity of Biscayne Bay. This system, which has been approved by the state of Florida’s Siting Board and DEP, is expected to commence operations this summer and be fully operational by year’s end.

The recent water quality challenges involving the cooling canal system do not impact the safety of the plant or public health, FPL said.

FPL wants to collect another $22 million for two new nuclear reactors

A federal lawsuit alleges that FPL customers have been wrongfully charged for nuclear costs. FPL's Turkey Point nuclear plant is shown here. The company is seeking to add two more nuclear reactors at the site.
FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear plant is shown here. The company is seeking to add two more nuclear reactors at the site.

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.

Read that order here.

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.