October 17, 2017 / 9:39 PM / in a year

Florida rejects some recovery for proposed new FPL nuclear reactors

Oct 17 (Reuters) - Utility regulators in Florida on Tuesday rejected Florida Power & Light's (FPL) request to recover costs incurred after 2016 for two new nuclear reactors at the utility's Turkey Point power plant.

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) said in a statement that there was insufficient evidence to decide on FPL's request to recover costs because the utility did not file a feasibility analysis for the new reactors in 2017 as required under Florida’s nuclear cost recovery rules.

FPL, a unit of Florida energy company NextEra Energy Inc , said it was still pursuing licenses to build the new reactors from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

"We are on track to receive final approval from the NRC in the coming months, and we intend to complete the licensing process such that the option of new nuclear power is available for our customers for many years into the future," Bianca Cruz, a spokeswoman at FPL said in an email.

She said the earliest the new units could enter service is 2031-2032 at an estimated cost between $14.96 billion and $21.87 billion for the 2,200-megawatt project. One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes.

FPL, however, has not made a final decision to build the new reactors. There are two reactors operating at the Turkey Point plant, which is about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Miami.

The builder and designer of the proposed new reactors is Westinghouse, a bankrupt unit of Japanese multinational Toshiba Corp.

Westinghouse ran into financial trouble due in part to construction of two nuclear projects in South Carolina and Georgia that fell years behind schedule and cost billions over budget.

South Carolina utilities Scana Corp and Santee Cooper canceled construction of new reactors at the Summer plant in July after determining it would cost as much as $24 billion to complete and not be finished before 2023.

The two reactors at Summer were expected to cost about $9.8 billion and be completed in 2016 and 2019.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, an energy watchdog in the U.S. Southeast, said his group was "pleased with the Commission's decision ... at least for this year, to stop throwing good customer money after bad for a reactor project that is effectively dead."

The PSC approved recovery of the utility's costs for 2015 and 2016 that included almost $47 million for the Turkey Point project. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Jonathan Oatis)

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