Nuclear energy is Florida’s future
By Vincent Dolan
Progress Energy Florida and the state have taken a significant step in the process of ensuring that clean nuclear energy is available and viable for Florida’s future.
Gov. Charlie Crist and his cabinet unanimously approved Progress Energy Florida’s Site Certification Application (SCA) recently. The SCA review process involves a detailed analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the proposed Levy County nuclear plant and related facilities.
The vote was a crucial milestone and the second of three major approvals needed to permit construction. In July 2008, the Florida Public Service Commission approved the “needs case” for the plant. The last remaining major decision is from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which is expected by early 2012.
Carbon-free nuclear remains the best baseload generation option for implementing state energy policy and meeting our customers’ long-term needs. Progress Energy Florida’s existing Crystal River nuclear plant, for example, has generated safe, reliable, carbon-free power for decades — saving customers about $600 million in annual fuel costs in the process. State-of-the-art plants such as the proposed Levy County facility, when combined with comprehensive energy efficiency programs and promising renewable energy technologies, form the balanced solution energy portfolio necessary to most effectively meet our customers’ changing energy needs.
Fortunately for our Florida customers, forward-thinking state regulators and policymakers have given utilities the ability to take on the kinds of capital-intensive projects necessary to meet our customers’ evolving energy demand. This future-focused approach is especially important in the energy industry, where critical decisions often must be made a decade or more in advance. The ongoing commitment to ensuring the long-term stability of our state’s energy infrastructure was evidenced by the recent decision.
Part of being a responsible utility means recognizing that a project of this magnitude and duration is a significant commitment and one that will be regularly assessed to ensure that it is in the best interests of all stakeholders. Along with the company’s annual prudence reviews with the Florida Public Service Commission, Progress Energy will continue to evaluate the Levy County project in terms of public, regulatory and political support, including adequate cost-recovery mechanisms, and the availability and terms of financing for the capital necessary to build the plant.
The SCA focuses primarily on what impact the proposed plant would have on the environment. To protect and preserve the wildlife and vegetation living near our proposed facilities, our company has taken great care to minimize the environmental impacts of the project.
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.
Vincent Dolan is president and CEO of Progress Energy Florida.