Florida court rejects state okay for Turkey Point nuclear project power lines

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal on April 20 rejected an approval by the State Siting Board, which includes the Florida governor, of transmission lines for Florida Power & Light‘s (FPL) planned Turkey Point Units 6 and 7 nuclear project.

The court agreed with local governments that the board failed to consider local ordinances when it granted that approval. The appealing parties included the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, the Village of Pinecrest and the City of South Miami. The court remanded the matter back to the board for further deliberations that take into account local ordinances.

The board authorized FPL to construct and operate two new nuclear units and associated facilities at Turkey Point, in addition to allowing FPL to install miles of new transmission lines. The parties appealed a number of issues, a few of which overlap.

Said the April 20 court ruling: "We reverse and remand because the Siting Board failed to apply the City of Miami’s applicable land development regulations, the Siting Board erroneously thought it did not have the power to require FPL to install the lines underground at FPL’s expense, and the Siting Board erred in interpreting the County’s East Everglades Ordinance as a zoning regulation, rather than an environmental one."

The project includes new electrical transmission lines and associated facilities in western Miami-Dade County. After FPL filed is site certification application, a lengthy certification hearing before the administrative law judge (ALJ) followed, at which numerous parties participated, including all the appellants. At the hearing, the City of Miami presented evidence regarding its land development regulations and why FPL was required to comply with those regulations. The City of Miami also outlined the problems raised with the placement of FPL’s proposed poles, which in some cases were as tall as 105 feet, in the City of Miami’s densely populated urban areas. The City of Miami presented evidence that the sea level and storm surges would be a problem for the proposed two nuclear reactors. It additionally believed that FPL’s proposed water uses for the facilities would harm wetlands, ground and surface waters, Biscayne Bay and the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve. It contended that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection refused to consider local land development regulations or comprehensive plans to the transmission line portions of FPL’s application, which it claimed the DEP was statutorily required to consider.

Miami-Dade County also raised its objections, particularly because the western transmission line corridor would run through areas of the East Everglades.

At the end of the certification hearing, the ALJ issued its recommended order approving the project. The ALJ approved FPL’s West Preferred Corridor as a back-up western transmission corridor if adequate right-of-way could not be obtained in the primary corridor in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost. The transmission lines and roads in the West Preferred Corridor would be installed all within the current boundaries of both the East Everglades and Everglades National Park for approximately six miles. The recommended order did not consider local regulations. In May 2014, the Siting Board, sitting as the head of the DEP, issued a Final Order on Certification, in which it adopted the ALJ’s recommended order.

Said the Feb. 22 annual Form 10-K report of FPL parent NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) about this project: "FPL’s need petition for two additional nuclear units at its Turkey Point site was approved by the [Florida Public Service Commission] in 2008 and FPL is moving forward with activities necessary to obtain all permits, licenses and approvals necessary for construction and operation of the units. The two units are expected to add a total of approximately 2,200 MW of capacity. The timing of commercial operation will be subject to various regulatory approvals from the FPSC and other agencies which will be required throughout the licensing and development processes and the nuclear units are expected to be placed in-service in 2027 and 2028. The NRC’s decision regarding issuance of the licenses for the two units is expected in mid-2017."

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.