US NRC approves two AP1000 units for Turkey Point NPP

8 April 2018

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on 5 April approved the issue of combined construction and operating licences (COLs) for the two proposed Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at units 6 and 7 of Florida Power and Light's (FPL's) Turkey Point NPP in Florida. FPL informed NRC in 2006 that it intended to file COL applications for new units and formally submitted the application in 2009. In 2011 Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) allowed FPL to add a small charge to its customers' bills to fund the construction, although the utility has yet to make a final decision on whether to proceed with the plans. NRC issued its final environmental impact statement and final safety evaluation report for Turkey Point 6 and 7 in 2016.  

NRC decision to issue the COLs for Turkey Point 6 and 7 follows a hearing last December at which staff's found FPL's application adequate to make the necessary regulatory safety and environmental findings. In a filing to the Florida PSC in June 2017, FPL said that after receiving the COLs it "intends to pause the project to observe and understand the challenges faced by the first wave of AP1000 projects currently under way". This pause is estimated to be at least four years, the company said, which will push the commissioning and start-up dates for Turkey Point 6 and 7 from 2027 and 2028 to at least 2031 and 2032. During this period, FPL said it will undertake activities necessary to defend and maintain COL-associated permits, licences, certifications, and approvals. Maintenance activities include continuing compliance with the Conditions of Certification or other permit conditions and collecting lessons learned from the first wave of AP1000 projects. FPL will also look at execution structure, contract price, terms and conditions, and schedule of the first wave projects “to assess improvements to costs and schedules. FPL also plans to monitor economic factors that could affect the decision to proceed with construction

The Turkey Point NPP hosts two operating 820MWe pressurised water reactors built in the 1970s. Unit 3 is currently licensed to operate until July 2032 and unit 4 until April 2033. The site also includes three gas-fired units (1,2 and 5). FPL applied in January seeking to renew the operating licences of Turkey Point 3 and 4 for an additional 20 years. The licences have already been renewed to allow operation for 60 years and another renewal would extend the units’ total operational lifetimes to 80 years. FPL said it had already invested more than $1bn to upgrade the units, adding approximately 250MWe of new capacity.

Four AP1000 units are under construction in China – two each at the Sanmen and Haiyang sites. Sanmen 1 is expected to be the first AP1000 to begin operating later this year followed by Haiyang 1 and Sanmen 2, with Haiyang 2 expected to start up in 2019. Four AP1000s were also being built in the USA – two each at the Vogtle and Summer NPPs, but construction of the Summer units was suspended in August. Vogtle unit 3 is scheduled to begin operation in 2021, and unit 4 in 2022.

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