More than eight years after Florida Power & Light submitted its application for two new nuclear reactors, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled its final hearing on the proposal Dec. 12.
The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Md., and is open to public observation and will be webcast.
FPL has applied for permission to build and operate Units 6 and 7 at its Turkey Point plant on Biscayne Bay about 40 miles south of Miami. If approved, the reactors would join two existing reactors, Units 3 and 4.
FPL submitted the application on June 30, 2009. The NRC certified the 1,100-megawatt AP1000 design in 2011. It has also completed safety and environmental reviews.
The two reactors could cost as much as $21.8 billion, FPL officials have estimated. They might never be built, or if they are, it won’t be sooner than 2031.
Still, customers have already paid close to $282 million in costs associated with the two reactors, and FPL has spent a total of $315 million on pre-construction costs. Expenses could grow by another $90 million over the next five years.
In October, the Florida Public Service Commission denied FPL’s request to collect costs incurred for the reactors in 2017. FPL has not filed a required annual analysis about whether the reactors make economic sense for its customers since 2015.
Florida law allows utilities to collect certain costs during the licensing and pre-construction phases of nuclear plants.
The proposed reactors have come under scrutiny because they are the same type left unfinished at the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina. Westinghouse, which filed for bankruptcy along with its parent company, Toshiba, in March, has exited the reactor business.
However, Georgia Power and its partner utilities are moving forward with completion of its twin AP1000s.
In addition, the cooling canal system of the existing reactors is the subject of a lawsuit filed in federal court. It alleges that FPL violated provisions of the Clean Water Act due to groundwater contamination from the salt-laden canals. FPL began a long-term clean up of the system last year.