Nuclear plant gets state blessing
The Florida Cabinet has given its blessing to locating a two-unit nuclear power plant in Levy County about two miles from the town of Inglis.
Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, serving as the Siting Board, unanimously approved Progress Energy Florida’s request for construction of a nuclear facility on a 3,105-acre location. The Levy Nuclear Plant is the first nuclear facility approved in Florida since 1976.
Levy County Coordinator Fred Moody said the approval is good news. “We’re excited that this is another step in a long process that has been approved.
“I don’t know how many steps they have in between, but it’s another positive step for Levy’s economy”
Moody said that even with the 20-month delay in sire preparation work, Moody said Progress is moving forward with the project.
“Today’s decision proves that Florida is on the right path toward achieving energy diversity and independence,” Crist said. “I applaud Progress Energy Florida for its commitment to producing alternative energy options, creating jobs and protecting our environment for future generations.”
“This is an important milestone for the proposed Levy plant,” said Vincent M. Dolan, Progress Energy Florida’s president and chief executive officer. “Carbon-free nuclear power is a strategic asset in our statewide effort to become energy-independent, to reduce our reliance on more volatile-priced fossil fuels, and to provide a balanced approach to meet the challenges of growth and climate change.”
The Florida Public Service Commission certified the need for a the two 1,100 megawatt nuclear powered units one year ago. In December 2008, Progress Energy announced it would discontinue coal use at its coal-fired units, Crystal River 1 and 2, with construction of the Levy Nuclear Units 1 and 2. The Siting Board’s approval of the Levy plant includes a requirement for the coal-fired units to be discontinued by December 31, 2020.
“Today’s approval by the Siting Board is a significant step in the process to construct and operate the facility,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole.
Federal approvals and permits required prior to construction include National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD), U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Progress Energy has already received the PSD permit and all others are currently under review.
On another front, Progress has filed an appeal of a recent NRC Atomic Licensing Safety Board ruling that a petition filed by two environmental groups and a public interest group should get a full hearing on three issues: the effect on the flood plain and two on nuclear waste handling and storage.
The Cabinet vote is the second of three major approvals needed before the company can begin building the nuclear plant. The last remaining major decision is from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which is expected by early 2012.
Progress Energy Florida owns about 5,100 acres in southern Levy County for the potential construction of two nuclear reactors. If built, the new plant would employ approximately 800 full-time, high-paying positions, generate another 1,000 to 2,000 indirect jobs and employ about 3,000 people at the height of construction. Construction is expected to be under way in 2011.
If approved and built, the project would be among the first nuclear plants in the country to be constructed on a greenfield site in more than 30 years, and it would involve development of one of the single largest transmission infrastructure projects in Florida’s history.