Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nuclear Energy Under the Florida Palms

palm trees in Florida_jpg Here’s some interesting news out of Florida:

A state Senate committee today approved a bill that would require Florida's electric utilities to get 20 percent of their power from "clean" energy, including nuclear and coal, by 2020.

Under the bill, which was approved in a 6-3 vote, 5 percent of that 20-percent goal can be met with nuclear or new coal-burning technology.

We’ll let coal take care of itself, but we think nuclear could very well get Florida to that 20 percent mark quite handily. Why?

The Shaw Group Inc. and Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC have signed a contract for engineering, procurement and construction of a two-unit nuclear powerplant at a greenfield site in Levy County, Fla. Progress Energy Florida Inc., the owner, expects to receive a combined construction and operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by early 2012.

And the schedule for this?

Current plans are for operation of the plant in the 2016-18 time frame, after which Progress Energy will retire its two oldest coal-fired units at the Crystal River Energy Complex in Citrus County, Fla.

So in time for the 2020 mark. Presumably, that coal plant cannot be retrofitted for carbon capture or it could be a win all around the Florida energy sphere. Now to see if other energy sources can step up for that other 15 percent.

What you’ll see a lot of in Florida. A company I used to work for had a warehouse in Florida that frequently had alligators sidle up to its cooling unit. The gators would cover the fan and cause the unit to overheat. Eventually, the company built a fence around the unit, but an occasional rack of teeth would investigate then lope off disappointed. (I was there when a gator planted itself at the front door – never a dull moment.)


Strike Force Admin said...

Nice Propaganda piece. First, if the nuclear industry is lucky, they might get Congress to fund tops 3 projects....Florida applications are not even close to being in the top five.

Further, the last ten nuclear projects have come in on average 300 percent over budget, and at least three years behind schedule...you can double, maybe triple that in Ameerica.

Anonymous said...

On the other side of the state, FPL is working to uprate their four nuclear units by about 12% each. That adds probably 440 MWe of nuclear capacity.

Sorry, SFAdmin, they're doing it without relying on luck.

Anonymous said...


The Florida plants are being built under the rate base system, with cost recovery during construction. Thus, they will not need any Federal loan guarantees.

As for cost, the last 10 plants to be built were, of course, the most delayed, and therefore the most over-budget. Nice intellectual sleight of hand.

Also great is the assumption that we have learned nothing from the last round of construction, or the 30+ years of operating experience. Or the assumption that the streamlined, one-step licensing process (which greatly limits intevention after construction starts) will not help at all...

Cost estimates for new plants are much more conservative (high) than they were for the first wave, which, along with all the reasons given above means that the chance of significant overrun is much lower. Also, despite these very pessimistic cost estimates, the utilities proved (and convinced the Florida PUC) that new nuclear would be the cheapest option for new capacity.

These Florida plants are going forward.

Jim Hopf

Martin Burkle said...

Responding to the last 10 nuclear plants built being over budget. Well the last 10 nuclear plants build were not in the United States. Does anyone have information on the cost of some of the recent plants built in Japan?

KenG said...

Some of those last 10 were undoubtably in Korea. The Korean plants are built on time and on budget. With 20nuclear units in operation, electric rates in Korea have been essentially constant for the last 25 years. They clearly know how to do it right.

Bill said...

I believe Japan's ABWRs were completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

Bill said...

FPL is adding about 400 MW of nuclear power, for about $1.5 billion.

They're also adding 75 MW_peak (18 MW_average) of solar thermal power, for $476 million.

Which makes more sense?