Senate committee advances bill to commission nuclear energy study

by | Feb 8, 2024

The Florida House Appropriations Committee advanced a proposal mandating the Public Service Commission to investigate the viability of advanced nuclear energy, including Small Modular Reactors, to meet the state’s electrical demands.

The Florida House Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a measure that would require the Public Service Commission (PSC) to explore the possibility of using nuclear energy to satisfy the electrical power needs of the state.

The bill, carried by Rep. Bobby Payne, would require the PSC to conduct a study evaluating the technical and economic feasibility of employing advanced nuclear power technologies, including Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). At present, nuclear energy generates about 13 percent of total electricity generation in Florida.

“There has been increasing interest in advanced nuclear reactors and small modular reactors recently,” reads a House legislative analysis of the bill. “Advanced nuclear reactors are believed to improve upon earlier generations of reactors in areas of cost, safety, security, waste management, and versatility.”

The bill also requires the PSC to research means to encourage the installation and use of nuclear technologies at military installations in the state in partnership with public utilities.

House analysis further stipulates that most nuclear plants operate around the clock and generate at maximum capacity around 93 percent of the time – nearly twice the capacity factor of resources like coal and natural gas, and triple that of wind and solar.

If adopted, the bill would require the PSC to prepare and submit a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives containing its findings and recommendations for potential legislative or administrative actions that may enhance the use of advanced nuclear technologies in a manner consistent with the state energy policy goals.

According to the Florida Department of Emergency Management, the state houses five commercial nuclear reactors located at three sites, Crystal River, St. Lucie, and Homestead, though the Crystal River site has been decommissioned with no current plans to revive it. The agency also notes that two additional reactors are located in Alabama near the state border.

A secondary provision contained within the broader bill would also mandate the state Department of Transportation to study and evaluate the potential development of hydrogen fueling infrastructure, including fueling stations, to support hydrogen-powered vehicles that use the state highway system.


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