NRC approves major power uprate for FPL’s St. Lucie 2

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Sept. 24 that it has approved a Florida Power & Light (FPL) request to increase the generating capacity of St. Lucie Unit 2 by 17%, from roughly 853 MW to 1,002 MW.

A similar uprate was approved in July for the NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE) subsidiary’s St. Lucie Unit 1. The two pressurized-water reactors are located about 10 miles southeast of Ft. Pierce, Fla.

FPL plans to implement the uprate right away. St. Lucie 2 is currently in a refueling and maintenance outage, an FP&L spokesperson said Sept. 25. When the outage is completed later this year, Unit 2 will reach its increased generation output, the spokesperson said.

FP&L said that it is spending between $2.95bn and $3.15bn to increase generating capacity at its St. Lucie and Turkey Point nuclear plants in Florida between 2011 and 2013.

The utility went before the Florida Public Service Commission in early September seeking rate recovery for the uprate efforts. A Florida PSC spokesperson said a decision on the issue should come in late November.

“In 2011, FPL began the process of upgrading the St. Lucie and Turkey Point nuclear plants to produce additional needed electricity, without expanding the footprint of the plants,” the utility has said on its website. Altogether these uprates will produce the same amount of energy as a mid-size power plant, FPL has said.

Altogether, FPL expects to get an additional 525 MW out of the power uprate program, according to a NextEra presentation during the recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch Power and Gas Leaders Conference.

FP&L submitted its license amendment request for the power uprates in February 2011. The request was supplemented several times since then.

The NRC staff’s evaluation determined that FP&L could safely increase the reactor’s power output primarily by carrying out significant upgrades to several plant systems and components, including the steam and power conversion system and the condensate and feedwater system. As part of its evaluation, NRC staff reviewed the company’s analysis showing the plant’s design can accommodate the increased power level.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.