Talking Turkey: FPL’s proposed new reactors face (yet) another setback

As we offer up our thanks during Thanksgiving week, we wanted to THANK YOU for all that you’ve done to help say “no” to FPL’s ill-advised pursuit of possibly building two new nuclear reactors at their existing Turkey Point plant near Homestead, Florida ~25 miles from Miami. This turkey-themed holiday also gave us another opportunity to share two of our favorite memes!

How have you all helped thwart FPL’s plans? There have been many ways over the years but most recently the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the agency overseeing the federal licensing of these reactors, announced that they received so many substantive comments from the public and other agencies, nearly 11,000 (wow!), they were extending their review of the environmental impact statement (EIS) to address those comments. They anticipated this would take at least an additional 7 months: instead of finalizing the EIS in February 2016, the NRC now estimates October 2016, at the earliest. So thank you for ensuring that concerned voices are being heard!

FPL’s Turkey Point proposed expansion has faced other hurdles that our supporters have contributed to in various ways. During the 2015 nuclear cost recovery hearings before the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), the price tag jumped again to a staggering $20 billion and the estimated levelized cost is now 17 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), nearly six times higher than energy efficiency at less than 3 cents per kWh. Once again, public outrage at the unfair practice of charging their customers in advance for costs associated with new nuclear generation, often referred to as Florida’s “nuclear tax,” has prompted the media to pay attention and many concerned stakeholders to take action. Several local leaders challenged the PSC to hold hearings in South Florida and have consistently spoken out against the expansion. The City of Miami intervened for the first time. And now some state lawmakers are again trying to repeal this anti-consumer legislation (let’s not forget that Duke Energy customers have been burned too from “pre-paid” costs they have been forced to dole out for the shelved Levy Co. reactors and the now-closed Crystal River reactor). Though the PSC once again succumbed to the big power companies’ bidding, they’re finally getting scrutinized for doing so.

Your concerns about the serious water issues affecting the existing two Turkey Point reactors is also bringing greater attention to the massive impacts that expanding this facility will have on South Florida’s already threatened water supplies. Hence our “Unhappy Couple” meme — the current reactors are water guzzling and the proposed reactors will not only guzzle more water but are already unfairly picking ratepayers’ pockets!

Lastly, a big thank you to those who have already signed this petition (also en Espanol) opposing the federal licensing of the proposed Turkey Point reactors. For those of you who haven’t yet, please sign today 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. Together we are making a difference. Happy Thanksgiving!

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8 Comments

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“CleanEnergy”.org??? You cannot be for clean energy, with intellectual honesty, and oppose nuclear. It is the CLEANEST of all large-scale energy supplies. It is the only zero emission base-load energy. It accounts for 70% of America’s carbon-free electricity.

Opposition to the atom is an outdated phobia that has mostly died off like the mythical arguments posed by the flat-earth-society. Those who still cling to the 70′s-era debunked claims in opposition to clean, safe nuclear energy do so based upon political loyalties and faded T-shirts, not science. Let it go. Leap into this century and join those who truly support clean power that nuclear science provides.


Comment by Jpaul on November 23, 2015 2:10 pm


Nuclear power is not a “zero emission” technology and it’s extremely disingenuous to state such. Most notably in terms of the highly radioactive, long-lived spent nuclear fuel (nuclear waste) that is generated from every operating nuclear reactor and has to be essentially isolated from humans and the environment for many, many, many generations (and do not bring up reprocessing because that too is highly polluting and expensive). Let’s not forget the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the short- and long-term ramifications of that major release of “emissions.” There are also substantial emissions to the air, land and water from nuclear power plants — some contaminants are radioactive, others include heavy metals, biocides, thermal discharge (heated water) and more. Those who are curious can read more in our Code Red Alert report (see pp. 2, 16-18): http://www.cleanenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/Code-Red-Report-FINAL.pdf. Lastly, the reality is that there are MANY other energy generation options that are available TODAY that can affordably reduce carbon emissions while not guzzling our limited water resources or posing the risks that nuclear brings to the table. It is the nuclear industry and it’s proponents who are living in the past (remember “too cheap to meter”?) and continue to ignore that the future is not choosing new nuclear.


Comment by Sara Barczak on November 24, 2015 1:02 pm


Sara,

I appreciate what you are saying but I think the main concern those of us who support nuclear being an option along with solar and wind is that climate change is the biggest environmental threat facing the planet. The main focus of the environmental groups should be getting every coal plant in the country closed ASAP. If you want to deal with nuclear after that, be my guest. Every time a nuclear plant is forced to close or is delayed from being built means more CO2 production in the mean time. When these plants are closed, new solar and wind projects have to make up the lost energy produced by the nuclear plant before they can even begin cutting down on the coal production.

We’ve wasted 35 years of progress over this fight. Republicans support nuclear and a pact could have been made in the 80s to retire all of the coal plants in exchange for new nuclear. Instead we’ve twiddled our thumbs and the Earth keeps getting warmer every year and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere keeps increasing. We are going to hit the point of no return and these arguments are not going to matter any more.


Comment by Ben on November 25, 2015 3:39 pm


That being said, building new reactors at Turkey Point might not be the answer Florida needs but if it’s a choice between an expansion and keeping coal plants in the state active and/or new gas-fired plants being built, I would choose the nuclear option.

I appreciate the work your group is doing on the solar front in the state. Saw yesterday that some Legislators are coming on board with the ideas in the Amendment. Any plans to encourage the Legislature to adopt electric car friendly policies like other states have done? Whether that’s rebates or special pricing for charging at night during off-peak hours. Besides the HOV program, Florida is pretty backwards on that front too.


Comment by Ben on November 25, 2015 3:56 pm


Thankfully the choice is not limited to an “if not coal, than nuclear” situation. And thanks for your support of our solar work in Florida. We agree that EV policies would benefit Florida, but are not engaged in this issue in Florida yet.


Comment by Sara Barczak on December 1, 2015 4:10 pm


Thank you for your comments. SACE has all along been dedicated to fighting new coal plants and with our allies, have been very successful in doing so while also working to phase-out existing polluting coal plants. And we’re engaged in fighting an unnecessary new natural gas plant in Florida, see http://www.cleanenergy.org/2015/12/01/florida-power-light-continues-to-overbuild/. Nuclear power is too expensive and slow to be a viable option for mitigating climate change — limited financial resources and a shortened timeline to act and make a difference makes nuclear a poor choice.


Comment by Sara Barczak on December 1, 2015 4:19 pm


I see what you mean about the new plants wrt the timeline required from conception to going online and how fast climate change needs to be addressed. However, I still don’t understand the fight some groups are waging to close existing operating nuclear plants when the timeline for mitigating climate change is getting smaller and smaller. It seems very counter-productive.

Personal experience regarding efficiency. We upgraded from a SEER 10 to a SEER 16 HVAC 4 years ago and have seen a substantial reduction in our energy use. It’s ridiculous that FPL was able to get the rebate substantially scaled back this year since those upgrades do have such a big effect on energy use.

How much does FPL plan to spend on building that natural gas plant in the link you posted? If the same money was used for AC upgrades throughout the service area instead of building a new plant, has their been any analysis on how much energy would be saved vs what the new plant would produce?


Comment by Ben on December 2, 2015 2:44 pm


FPL estimates $1.2 billion for the new, unnecessary plant. Good coverage by Mary Ellen Klas in the Miami Herald: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article47389785.html. Excerpt: “Testimony showed that for the average FPL customer, who is expected to use 14,118 kw hours in 2020, the additional annual cost for the plant will be $17.22.” Energy efficiency costs less than 3 cents/kWh in Florida — a much better bet for customers!


Comment by Sara Barczak on December 2, 2015 3:21 pm


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