CEA-Florida’s Kevin Doyle writes on the opinion page at Tallahassee.com why Florida should consider Nuclear energy as a source for electricity.
Due in part to our beautiful beaches, growing economy and tax-friendly policies, Florida has been, and will continue to be, a destination for individuals from across the United States and the world. Over the past three decades, our state’s population has grown, on average, by 300,000 residents per year. In fact, the 2010 census noted that Florida boasts the third-largest growth rate in the nation.
Many analysts believe our state’s growth will continue. In fact, the University of Florida recently projected that Florida’s population could reach 29 million by 2040.
With Florida’s estimated population and economic growth, the state consumers will need increasing amounts of energy. In fact, the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council expects the state’s electricity demand will rise by more than 10 gigawatts, or roughly 20 percent, through 2035.
If our state is going to meet this increased demand, a growing nuclear sector must be part of our state’s energy portfolio. After all, nuclear energy is clean and abundant and, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, it’s one of the most cost-efficient sourcees of base load electricity, averaging about 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour from 2010 to 2012.
It’s good news then that Florida Power and Light (FPL) is continuing to seek state and federal approvals for two new nuclear reactors at its existing Turkey Point facility near Homestead.
According to FPL’s website, the project will produce approximately 2,000 megawatts (2 gigawatts) of electricity. That’s enough to serve approximately 750,000 South Florida homes and meet 20 percent of the state’s expected increase in power needs. In other words, one project could meet a rather large chunk of our state’s future power needs.
At the same time, it’s estimated the project will save consumers approximately $75 billion in fossil fuel costs over the project’s 40-year lifetime.
What’s more, nuclear power and the Turkey Point project in particular will provide a significant benefit to Florida’s environment. Due to the fact that nuclear energy emits no carbon, the project would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 265 million tons in comparison with other high-capacity energy sources.
Of course, it’s also worth noting the project would provide a much-needed economic lift to Florida. Construction of the new reactors are expected to generate $6 billion in benefits to the economy, including 3,600 construction jobs and 800 high-paying, permanent jobs at the facility.
Our state is already a clean energy leader as roughly 72 percent of our electricity is generated from low, or zero, emissions sources. To advance this trend, while continuing to meet our state’s electricity needs affordably, increased generating capacity from nuclear energy is an absolute necessity.
For all of these reasons, the Consumer Energy Alliance encourages Floridians and our state’s elected leaders to support policies that promote this needed energy source’s continued growth while safeguarding Florida’s special environment. During this exciting time in the state’s history, supporting an all-of-the-above approach — including expanded nuclear capacity — will prove itself as a successful path for the future, allowing energy supplies to be more secure and more affordable for our citizens.
Kevin Doyle is executive director of the Consumer Energy Alliance-Florida, the state affiliate of a national nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Energy Alliance