NRC will hear Florida utility’s license renewal request for St. Lucie nuclear power units

Image credit by Florida Power & Light

Florida Power & Light is vying to maintain and operate its St. Lucie nuclear reactor units into the 2050s and 2060s.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced it has accepted the application from FPL to request an additional 20 years of operations for St. Lucie units 1 and 2. The NRC will rule later on whether to renew the licenses after a hearing process.

The two units already are licensed to operate through 2036 and 2043, respectively. The new license renewals would extend Unit 1’s expiration date to March 2056 and Unit 2 to April 2063. The St. Lucie plant, which is located on Hutchinson Island, was first commissioned in 1976 and put Unit 2 into operation in the early 1980s.

If approved, St. Lucie could continue to operate until it was 80 years old. The NRC has already approved another plant owned by FPL parent, NextEra Energy, to run through eight decades, while utilities such as Dominion and Exelon are asking for similar lifespan renewals.

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FPL has embarked on an aggressive decarbonization plan for its power generation mix, including closing fossil-fired plants and expanding solar photovoltaic capacity. Nuclear would provide a high capacity factor, carbon-free generation option for the resource mix.

Petitions to intervene in the license renewal application hearing must be filed by November 29. The NRC approved the initial license renewal in 2003.

Together, St. Lucie’s two units can generate nearly 1.9 GW at capacity (and operate at 95 percent of that level, according to reports). They are powered by two Combustion Engineering pressurized water reactors.

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