NEI’s Top Industry Practice Awards recognize innovation in the nuclear energy industry. Presented at NEI’s annual conference, the awards honor accomplishments that help the industry improve safety, streamline processes and increase efficiency.
In a special series of articles this week, our publication Nuclear Energy Overview highlights the challenges and successes of five winners.
This year’s Westinghouse Combustion Engineering Award went to a gargantuan project—NextEra Energy completed the largest extended power uprate project in history, adding more than 700 megawatts of additional generating capacity across four reactors in Florida and two in Wisconsin.
With more than 30 million hours worked to complete the uprate, NextEra’s project called on a workforce of thousands, an economic boon to the communities that host the facilities.
Terry Jones, vice president of nuclear power uprates, stressed the importance of instilling in the workers the nuclear energy industry’s safety culture.
“They understand how we work, how we’re just absolutely fanatical when it comes to safety,” Jones said.
Much of the workforce was new to the nuclear industry, but extensive training, on-site coaching and daily feedback ensured the work was performed safely and efficiently.
A major workforce challenge was coordinating the logistics of so many workers.
“On any given day, you’re dealing with a workforce that’s in excess of 3,000, in addition to your normal plant staff,” Jones said. “You had to set up a traffic control just to be able to get the workforce to and from the sites in a safe manner.”
The benefits of an extensive workforce outweighed the challenges, however.
“We provided a tremendous amount of employment and economic benefit to the region. We were employing more than 3,500 workers on any given day on average, and about 50 percent of that workforce was Floridian,” Jones said.
He added that NextEra will see many long-term benefits from the uprates.
“You’ve got a more modern plant that will result in improved reliability. You’ve got fuel cost savings for the customer. You’ve got greater fuel diversification. You’re reducing CO2 emissions,” Jones said.