Opposition to FPL’s Proposed Turkey Point Nuclear Reactors Grows

This blog was written by Sara Barczak, former Regional Advocacy Director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | September 15, 2015 | Energy Policy, Nuclear

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, SACE will be posting a series of blogs highlighting issues that impact Latino communities throughout the Southeast. This is the first blog in that series, and please stay tuned for more entries throughout the month. To view this blog in Spanish, click here.

Over the last several months, much attention has been paid to FPL’s controversial proposal to potentially build two water-intensive new nuclear reactors with a price tag approaching $20 billion at their existing, two-reactor Turkey Point nuclear plant in Miami-Dade County, about 25 miles south of Miami.

Earlier this year the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that recommended licensing the reactors and requested public comments. Three well-attended public hearings were held, one in Miami the day President Obama visited the Everglades to discuss climate change, and two in Homestead. SACE’s George Cavros presented compelling comments in Miami in which several local mayors, state and elected officials, community leaders and others voiced opposition to the licensing of the reactors.

If approved, the two reactors, which may operate for 60 or more years, would make Turkey Point one of the largest nuclear plants in the country, would require using massive amounts of water and degrade water quality, threaten the drinking water supply and jeopardize critical wildlife habitat for neighboring Biscayne National Park and ongoing Everglades restoration efforts.

Most recently, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) held a hearing in August to consider Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) request for over $34 million combined in advanced cost recovery, or “nuclear tax,” from their customers. Since 2008, the PSC has granted FPL over $250 million in cost recovery. SACE again intervened and was not the only party protesting this fleecing of Florida ratepayers. The City of Miami sponsored an expert witness, calling into question the feasibility of the project, and the Office of Public Counsel’s expert witness cited significant cost increases experienced at the four AP1000 reactors under construction at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle in Georgia and SCANA’s V.C. Summer in South Carolina.

Elected officials in South Florida including State Representative José Javier Rodríguez, who spoke at the hearing, Mayor Tomas Regalado of the City of Miami, Mayor Cindy Lerner of the City of Pinecrest, Mayor Phillip Stoddard of the City of South Miami have also raised concerns about the Turkey Point expansion and requested the PSC to hold hearings in Miami given the impacts specifically to that area. The Commission denied their request.

As SACE highlighted in our final brief, the net cumulative fuel savings benefits of the project, extolled by FPL as the prime benefit for customers, may not be realized by customers, in today’s dollars, until 60 years from today. A 45-year old customer today will not realize a net economic benefit, in today’s dollars, until that customer reached 105 years old. A significant percentage of customers in the counties that FPL serves will move away or pass away or their business will close before realizing any cumulative fuel savings benefit from the project, if at all – forcing customers to pay today for an alleged benefit that they will likely never receive in their lifetime. In the case of Palm Beach County, almost 50 % of the customers are 45 year of age or older.

The PSC will vote on whether to approve FPL’s request on October 19.

The simple fact is this: there is no need for the proposed reactors. They have been delayed several times and the in-service date pushed back at least ten years and FPL has not even committed to actually completing the project.

Florida has far better energy choices. Energy efficiency not only can help customers save money on their electric bills by reducing their energy use, but it is also the lowest cost resource in meeting electricity demand at an investment of less than 3 cents per kWh. This is a fraction of the levelized cost of the proposed reactors, which is almost 17 cents per kWh.

There are opportunities for concerned members of the public to oppose this project that, if built, will impact surrounding communities and FPL customers’ electric utility bills. These reactors are not the answer to Florida’s energy needs.

Please sign this petition (en Espanol) opposing the federal licensing of the proposed reactors and spread the word. It is long past time for the big power companies, elected officials, regulators and others to realize that Floridians want clean, safe affordable energy options, such as solar and energy efficiency, that are not vulnerable to the threats posed by climate change.

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