Environmental groups to Progress Energy: No nuclear power in Florida

10/03/11 Josh Holton
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Progress Energy Florida is charging rate payers for the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Levy County. On Saturday, about 30 activists gathered in front of Progress Energy’s headquarters in St. Petersburg to oppose nuclear power throughout the state.

University students, the Florida YES Coalition, and members of the Coalition Against Nukes held signs and handmade solar panels, and chanted for several hours in the sun. Since 2008, Progress Energy has charged its customers up front to build a nuclear plant in Levy County and update to their Crystal River plant. Mandy Hancock is with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and said the cost isn’t worth it.

Both Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light have applied for a combined operating license, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission may approve next year. Hancock hopes the permit is denied.

But she is skeptical that if the license is approved, they may not even build the plant. Suzanne Grant is with Progress Energy, and said that shareholders may play a role in that decision.

Hancock and others are concerned that without a firm commitment to build, the nuclear industry will pocket money obtained through the early cost recovery. In 2008, Progress customers paid an additional 11 dollars per 1,000 kilowatt hours. Next year that could be five dollars if it’s approved the Public Service Commission on October 24th. But Hancock is also concerned that water resources may be at stake.

Suzanne Grant with Progress Energy claims that they pump the water back into the aquifer and into local waterways, denying any water-intensive operations at the Crystal River plant. But Hancock said Florida Power and Light’s Turkey Point facility could indeed pose a threat to the environment, if enough waste-water is not available.

Christine Wall is with the Coalition Against Nukes, and also doesn’t think Levy County plant will be built. The plant could cost more than 17 billion dollars, and take 10 years to build. Progress Energy says they will need 135 million dollars in cost recovery. They will ask for another 22 million dollars to upgrade its Crystal River plant. Christine Wall said the Crystal River plant does not safely store its nuclear waste.

Grant from Progress Energy maintained the safety of the plant. She said that solar isn’t economically viable, although they would support the technology if it were. University of South Florida student Lauren Reilly is with the Florida YES Coalition, and pays a Progress Energy bill. Although their cost recovery request is 6% lower than the current rate, she doesn’t support nuclear power, and doesn’t want to fund it at all. She hopes Progress Energy will change their ways.

Kofi Hunt is with Awake the State, and said that customers shouldn’t have to pay the price for a private project they may not support.

That Florida House Bill is called HB 4031, and would repeal cost recovery provisions for siting, design, licensing, & construction of nuclear & a type of coal fired power plant. The bill was in the Energy & Utilities Subcommittee on Monday. State Senator Mike Fasano has also proposed Senate Bill 0172 to revise standards of conduct for the PSC commissioners, who have approved nuclear cost recovery proposals for several consecutive years.

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