TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida's largest power company received the go-ahead from state officials Tuesday to construct two nuclear reactors in South Florida, a project vehemently opposed by officials in several cities in Miami-Dade County.
Gov. Rick Scott and the three members of the Florida Cabinet voted Tuesday in favor of a plan that would allow Florida Power & Light to add nuclear generators to its existing Turkey Point facility near Homestead. The project would add approximately 2,200 megawatts of power, enough for about 750,000 homes.
The vote also gives the utility permission to erect nearly 90 miles of new power lines to carry electricity from the plant, including lines that will skirt the Everglades National Park.
The project is far from a done deal. A decision by federal regulators who must still evaluate the $12 billion to $18 billion project is years away, and it would probably be at least 10 years before the plant started operating.
But the approval from Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam still marks a milestone since other recent efforts to expand nuclear power in the state have been abandoned due to cost concerns and regulatory hurdles.
Florida Power & Light officials say adding additional nuclear units to their existing plant will benefit consumers while avoiding the emission of greenhouse gases.
Putnam called the project a "significant expansion of a nuclear project that I think does have great potential for our state."
The vote came swiftly, and with little debate, despite a contentious two-hour hearing in which mayors and city attorneys from several Miami-Dade cities blasted the proposal, especially the new transmission lines that would stand more than 100 feet tall in many places. Utility company officials agreed to limit pole sizes in the city of Coral Gables and said it would not begin installing the lines until the utility received federal permits.