Florida Power & Light applies for second license renewal for Turkey Point nuclear reactors

Published on February 05, 2018 by Aaron Martin

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Florida Power & Light Co. (FP&L) applied for a second 20-year license renewal for reactors at its Turkey Point nuclear plant in Miami-Dade County, marking a first for a U.S. nuclear plant.

Nuclear facilities are initially licensed to operate for a 40-year term. After that period, facility operators can apply for 20-year extensions with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Eighty-six nuclear reactors have been granted 20-year extensions, but Turkey Point became the first to apply for a second extension.

“In 2018, the company plans to conduct additional upgrades on the existing nuclear units that are expected to further boost their output by a combined 40 megawatts of capacity, and it also will file with the NRC to renew the units’ operating licenses,” FP&L said in a statement. “Renewing the licenses would allow the units to operate until 2052 and 2053 and save FPL customers billions of dollars by avoiding the need for other more expensive power generation.”

Nuclear Energy Institute (NE) Senior Project Manager of Life Extension and New Technology Jerud Hanson said the groundbreaking second extension follows years of research by the NEI’s Long-Term Operations Program, the Department of Energy’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program and the NRC to help achieve safe long-term operation of nuclear reactors.

“Rigorous inspections, innovative maintenance and repair techniques, continuous upgrading and replacement of parts and systems, and learnings from lead plant operating experience will ensure nuclear power plants continue to operate safely into the future,” Hanson said.

Those practices will likely become more critical in the future because half of the nation’s nuclear plants will have been in operation for at least 60 years by 2040. A planned second license renewal program would enable plants to remain in operation for up to 80 years.

As for Turkey Point, its 3 and 4 reactors were granted an initial license renewal in 2002 and would be in operation through 2032 and 2033 under that application, respectively.

“Turkey Point operations generate an estimated $1.7 billion of economic output annually, employing more than 800 full-time employees and hundreds of contract workers who live in nearby communities,” FP&L said. “Annual refueling outages require more than 2,500 additional personnel to visit the plant, supporting local lodging, restaurants and hundreds of other local businesses.”