DEP requests approval of Levy Co. nuke plan

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is asking the governor and Cabinet to approve Progress Energy’s site application to build a nuclear power plant on 3,105 acres in Levy County.

The Cabinet aides are scheduled to consider the request at their Aug. 5 meeting. If it wins a favorable Cabinet vote on Aug. 11, the facility would be the first nuclear plant approved in Florida since 1976 when Gov. Rubin Askew approved approved Florida Power & Light’s St. Lucie 2 unit.

According to consultants hired by Progress Energy, 764 acres of wetlands would be affected by the plant’s construction. The consultants proposed buying credits that pay for wetlands improvement projects in the region.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which opposed the plant during its review by DEP and the Public Service Commission, remains concerned about the project, said Leon Jacobs, an attorney in Tallahassee representing the environmental group. The group contends that nuclear energy is an expensive and uncertain investment and that the site is too sensitive for the plant.

“I would urge all the decision makers to look very carefully and very thoughtfully at the wisdom of moving forward,” Jacobs said.

Progress Energy contends that the nuclear plant will provide for continued electric system reliability and stable prices. A state hearing officer recommended approval of the site on May 15.

The DEP site application documents can be viewed by clicking here. The administrative hearing record is available at the Division of Administrative Hearings web site.