Florida studying new, advanced nuclear power

July 10, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News

State regulators will study the economic and technical feasibility of adding advanced nuclear technology in Florida.

The directive was included in a sweeping energy bill, House Bill 1645, passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Florida Public Service Commission must issue a report to the governor and legislative leaders by April 1, 2025, with findings and recommendations to support new nuclear in the state—specifically including military bases.

“Recognizing the evolution and advances that have occurred and continue to occur in nuclear power technologies, the Public Service Commission shall study and evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of using advanced nuclear power technologies, including small modular reactors, to meet the electrical power needs of the state,” House Bill 1645 reads.

Federal plans: The Biden administration launched an initiative in June to solicit advanced nuclear energy projects to be commissioned at military bases by 2030. The U.S. Army hopes to site two microreactors capable of providing 100 percent of critical load power.

To meet the rising demand and to provide security and resiliency to military bases, “there is no better high-density [power] source that can keep the lights on on a bad day, for a long time, under all circumstances,” said Rian Bahran, assistant director for nuclear strategy and technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The military is hoping to build microreactors that produce between 3 MW-10 MW of power, and it issued a request for proposals in June.

Florida plans: The public utilities commission has scheduled a workshop on September 5, with input from the state’s Division of Emergency Management and Department of Environmental Protection, to begin its study of bringing new nuclear to Florida.

Nuclear accounts for about 13 percent of Florida’s electricity, according to a state House analysis, with Florida Power & Light operating the St. Lucie and Turkey Point plants.

But the state has not added any nuclear plants since the 1970s and 1980s. Also, Duke Energy Florida decided in 2013 to permanently shut down a Crystal River nuclear plant that had sustained damage in a containment building.

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