FPL's plan for new reactors headed to Florida Supreme Court

By Marian Johns | Jan 6, 2017

MIAMI – Florida Power & Light’s plan to build two new nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point facility, which was approved by the state legislature three years ago and then overturned by an appeals court, is now heading to the Florida Supreme Court.

Florida Power & Light (FPL) recently filed a notice saying the company is seeking to take the issue to the state Supreme Court after an appeals court ruled in April of last year that there were several errors in FPL’s 2014 approval from the state to build the reactors. The court stated that Florida’s “siting board,” which reviewed FPL’s proposal, did not account for Miami’s land development regulations and the need to require FPL’s installation of underground transmission lines.

FPL says it intends to continue with obtaining any further approvals needed for the building of the new units at the Turkey Point facility located in Homestead, despite the setback from the appeals court decision.

Peter Robbins, nuclear communications manager with NextEra Energy Inc., a subsidiary of FPL, told the Florida Record and that FPL will continue to seek the approvals necessary to construct new nuclear units at Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant.

“We respectfully disagree with the 3rd District Court of Appeal’s opinion and believe that this case merits an opportunity to be heard by the State Supreme Court,” Robbins told the Florida Record.  “We continue to believe that the state siting board adopted a well-reasoned decision based on the Administrative Law Judge’s recommendation when it issued the certification for this project.”

“It should also be noted that this case and this motion are not related to the operation of the cooling canal system at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant,” Robbins said. “Our plan calls for using reclaimed water for cooling at Turkey Point Units six and seven, not water from the existing canal system.”

FPL, which has been operating the Turkey Point Nuclear Plant for more than 40 years, uses water in a canal system to help cool equipment, according to the company’s fact sheet on the facility. The company states it consulted with biologists as well as environmental groups and hydrology experts to make improvements on the canal system.

In 2014, the state’s siting board had given the approval for FPL to build the two new nuclear units as well as approved FPL’s installation of a significant amount of new transmission lines. The board is made up of Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet, which includes Attorney General Pam Bondi; Jeff Atwater, Florida CFO; and Adam Putnam, Florida agriculture commissioner.

In its ruling to overturn the state’s approval of the new reactors, the appeals court stated: “We reverse and remand because the siting board failed to apply the city of Miami’s applicable land development regulations, the siting board erroneously thought it did not have the power to require FPL to install the lines underground at FPL’s expense, the siting board erred in interpreting the county’s East Everglades Ordinance as a zoning regulation, rather than an environmental one.”

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