| TALLAHASSEE, Fla.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. May 13 Florida Governor Rick
Scott and members of the Cabinet on Tuesday approved plans by
the state's largest electric company to add two nuclear reactors
to a plant in the Miami area, despite an outcry by
environmentalists and some surrounding communities.
Florida Power & Light Co, a unit of NextEra
Energy Inc, wants to add two new 1,100-megawatt units to
its vast Turkey Point power complex near the city of Homestead.
The company has been working on the project in the
Miami-area suburb since 2006, winning approval by the state's
Public Service Commission, which regulates utility rates, and
the Department of Environmental protection.
Construction cannot begin until federal regulatory agencies
approve the project.
Several cities in Miami-Dade County strongly objected to
extending nearly 90 miles (145 km) of power lines to carry
electricity from the plant to customers.
"This would have a huge impact," Miami City Attorney
Victoria Mendez told Scott and the Cabinet during a public
She urged them to deny certification, delay it until the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and other permitting
agencies approve, modify the agreement to require underground
transmission lines or to remand the case to Administrative Law
Judge D.R. Alexander for further hearings.
Philip Stoddard, the mayor of South Miami, disputed the
company's claim that construction would generate about 8,000
jobs while saving customers hundreds of millions of dollars in
fuel costs each year.
Stoddard said "power lines are job killers" that drive
retail business and housing construction away from their paths.
But a succession of organized labor, chamber of commerce and
pro-nuclear speakers urged quick approval of the plan, arguing
south Florida needs the construction jobs and the additional
Brad Ashwell of the Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection,
said utilities are allowed to bill current customers for future
construction needs, collecting millions of dollars for plants
that may never be built.
"The problem is cost recovery," Ashwell said. "Consumers are
paying for projects they may never see completed, and never get
their money back."
Florida, like some other states in the U.S. Southeast,
allows utilities to recover the cost to build or upgrade nuclear
reactors before the projects enter service to help offset
financing and other costs.
In October, the Florida Power & Light said the two units
would cost about $12.8 billion to $18.7 billion and could enter
service around 2022 and 2023.
(Editing by Kevin Gray and Lisa Shumaker)