Progress seeks Florida OK to build new reactors

NEW YORK, March 11 Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:39am EDT

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NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - Progress Energy Inc's (PGN.N) Progress Energy Florida subsidiary Tuesday asked the Florida Public Service Commission to approve of the need for its proposed $14 billion Levy County, Florida nuclear power plant.

The company estimated it would cost about $14 billion to build the two reactors and another $3 billion for the necessary transmission upgrades.

That would boost average annual costs for the company's 1.7 million Florida customers by 3 percent to 4 percent from 2009 to 2018, the company estimated. Once the plants begin operation in 2016-17, however, Progress said fuel savings would be about $1 billion annually.

Progress wants to build two of Toshiba Corp's Westinghouse 1,100 MW AP1000 reactors on a 3,100-acre site in Levy County near the company's Crystal River nuclear power plant.

Progress said one megawatt powers about 615 homes and businesses in Florida.

"We believe that new nuclear generation is a critical hedge against the future risk of volatile and increasing fossil-fuel prices, and the likely significant future costs of emissions regulation," Jeff Lyash, president and CEO of Progress Energy Florida, said in a release.

The company estimated the project would provide about 800 full-time jobs, another 1,000 to 2,000 indirect jobs and employ about 3,000 people at the height of construction.

Before Progress can move forward, the PSC must schedule hearings on its Petition for Determination of Need, announced Tuesday, and the company will also have to file a site certification application with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a Combined Operating License (COL) application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Progress said it expects to submit both applications later this year.

If plans continue to move forward and are approved by state and federal regulators, the company said the two new reactors could enter service in 2016 and 2017.

Progress Energy, of Raleigh, North Carolina, owns and operates more than 21,000 MW of generating capacity, markets energy commodities, and transmits and distributes electricity to more than 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by John Picinich)

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