Nuclear, O&M, Plant Optimization, Retrofits & Upgrades

FPL gets NRC go-ahead on potential 80-year lifespan for Turkey Point nuclear units in Florida

Several U.S. nuclear plants could be octogenarians by the time they are done.

Florida Power & Light has cleared a significant federal regulatory hurdle in its quest to re-license the Turkey Point nuclear plant for another 20 years beyond the current operational timeline.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission environmental review found that “the adverse environmental impacts of subsequent license renewal for Turkey Point are not so great that preserving the option of subsequent license renewable for energy-planning decision-makers would not be unreasonable.”

In other words, the NRC is moving the Turkey Point application to a final decision in the not too distant future. FPL originally filed the re-licensing application in January 2018.

If finally approved, the Turkey Point nuclear units some 20 miles from Miami would operate until 2052 and 2053, barring decommissioning for financial or other operational reasons. The twin reactor units 3 and 4 were brought online in 1972 and 1973, making each 80 years old if and when the final license period ends.

Oyster Creek Generating Station in New Jersey, which began operation in the late 1960s, was tied for the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant until it was closed last year by owner Exelon Corp. Nine Mile Point Generating Station in New York, which also went into commercial operation 50 years ago on the same day as Oyster Creek, is still in operation.

Last year, Dominion Energy also filed NRC applications for additional 20-year licenses for its Surry Units 1 and 2. Those two nuclear units along the James River in Virginia were commissioned in 1972 and 1973, same as Turkey Point units 3 and 4.

If granted by the NRC, Surry 1 and 2 also would be 80 years old by the end of the new license.

More than a dozen U.S. nuclear plants are planned to be decommissioned between 2013 and 2025, according to reports. The carbon-free resource still accounts for 19 percent of the nation’s electricity generation mix.