Planned FPL nuclear units would tap wastewater for cooling

New nuclear reactors planned by NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) subsidiary Florida Power & Light (FPL) would actually use wastewater for cooling purposes, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) said Sept. 23.

NEI noted that FPL has reached an agreement with Miami-Dade County to use several millions gallons of treated wastewater daily at the proposed Turkey Point Units 6 and 7.

Nuclear plants use massive amounts of cooling water. NEI said the deal between FPL and Miami-Dade County could take up to 90 million gallons a day of treated wastewater that otherwise would be injected into deep wells or sent to Biscayne Bay and use it to cool the reactors. FPL would further treat the water before it is used.

The utility applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2009 for a license to build and operate two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the site—that application is being reviewed by the NRC.

“The projected online dates for Turkey Point Units 6&7 are 2022 and 2023,” a company spokesperson told GenerationHub Sept. 26.

“We’re taking a careful approach to Turkey Point 6&7, pursuing both state and federal approvals in a deliberate, step-by-step manner,” the spokesperson said.

There are no plans to convert the existing Turkey Point nuclear units to wastewater, the FPL representative said.

Turkey Point Units 3 and 4 are pressurized water reactors (PWRs) in Homestead, Fla., which were commissioned during the 1970s. NRC recently finished implementing NRC-approved power uprates at its Turkey Point and St. Lucie units in Florida. The uprates culminated a long-term effort to increase FPL’s nuclear capacity by about 500 MW.

FPL also has natural gas and fuel oil generating units at the Turkey Point complex. The reclaimed water will be available to supply cooling water to FPL’s existing Turkey Point Unit 5 combined-cycle natural gas unit.

FPL and the county began discussions in 2007 on the wastewater plan for the projected Turkey Point 6 and 7. Under a 2010 agreement, FPL will significantly reduce its demand for other cooling water sources for the new reactors.

Use of recycled water for power plant cooling is becoming more common at combined-cycle natural gas units. The Pinnacle West Capital (NYSE:PNW) Palo Verde nuclear station in the Arizona desert has been using this process since the 1980s, NEI said.

Turkey Point 6 and 7 continue to be “under review,” according to the NRC website. An NRC memo dated May 2012 said NRC still needed information about geology, seismology, and geotechnical engineering as well as alternative sites before safety and environmental reports could be issued. The NRC webpage on the Turkey Point 6 and 7 application does not list a projected date for NRC to make a decision.

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.