Progress Energy signs reactor contract

Published: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 11:12 p.m.

Progress Energy Florida has signed a contract with two companies to build two nuclear reactors at a proposed $17 billion nuclear power plant in Levy County.

The contract is with Westinghouse Electric Company LLC and The Shaw Group Inc.'s Power Group for equipment, engineering and construction services, the St. Petersburg-based company said Monday.

The next major steps are to complete joint ownership agreements and receive a schedule for review and approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The project also needs approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for its site certification application. The Florida Public Service Commission has already approved a Determination of Need.

The project would generate power for more than 1.3 million Florida homes and help Progress Energy reach 60 percent of its goal to meet Gov. Charlie Crist's order that carbon dioxide emissions from power plants be reduced to 1990 levels by 2025.

The nuclear units would be operational in 2016 and 2018. The company will close two coal-fired units at the Crystal River Energy Complex in Citrus County when the new nuclear units are built.

Progress Energy purchased 5,100 acres in southern Levy County to build what would be the first new nuclear plant site in more than 30 years.

According to the company, the majority of the project's costs will be invested by the company and its shareholders. Customers will begin paying for a portion of the costs starting this month through an additional $11.42 per 1,000 kilowatt hours. Paying the costs as they arise would save $13 billion over the life of the plant rather than accruing costs, the company said.

State Sen. Mike Fasano and Rep. Peter Nehr say they will introduce legislation to suspend the rate increase because consumers are already struggling to pay bills.

The project would generate at least 3,000 jobs at the peak of construction and at least 800 jobs to operate the plant. The economic impact to state and local communities is estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars annually, the company said.

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