Up to 5,000 temp jobs as FPL modifies reactor
By Scott Blake
More than $1 billion in upgrades to the Turkey Point nuclear power plant south of Miami are set to ramp up next week in a project expected to create up to 5,000 mostly construction-related, high-paying temporary jobs that could turn into permanent positions for some.
Florida Power & Light Co., the plant's operator, already has brought in more than 4,000 workers for training and other preparation before the project starts in earnest after one of the plant's two reactors is shut down next week for the work.
Most of the contracted employees at Turkey Point are temporary craft workers including welders, carpenters, electricians, pipefitters, and painters. They are being paid about $30 an hour, plus overtime. The rest are engineers working on the plant's modification plans.
The project will enable Turkey Point to produce more electricity and allow FPL to cut fossil fuel costs, the company said.
The work involves replacing most of the plant's pipes, valves and other equipment that supports the operation of the two nuclear units there. That includes replacing about 60,000 feet of cable and 16,000 feet of pipes.
The work is expected to be completed sometime next year, followed by a much more expensive, multi-year project to add two more nuclear reactors at Turkey Point.
Both projects "will provide major benefits to our customers and the Florida economy," FPL, the state's largest utility company, said in a statement to Miami Today.
"Collectively, the investments we are making in clean energy today will balance our future energy demand with our environmental goals and save our customers billions in fossil fuels in the process," the company said.
For the current project, staffing at Turkey Point has swelled from the plant's normal workforce of about 800 highly-trained, highly-paid FPL employees.
Opened 40 years ago, the plant was built at a remote site along the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles south of Miami.
The Turkey Point project coincides with similar upgrades underway at FPL's St. Lucie nuclear power plant on Hutchinson Island near Fort Pierce, where work began last year. The combined cost of the current Turkey Point and St. Lucie projects is estimated to be $2.3 billion to $2.5 billion.
Both projects are being mostly funded by investments from FPL shareholders. Also, electric rate increases for FPL customers will cover the cost. The rate increases would add $2.20 to the monthly electric bill of a home using 1,000 kilowatts of power per month, the company said.
At Turkey Point alone, the upgrades will enable the plant to produce about 450 megawatts of additional electricity — roughly the output of a medium-sized conventional power plant, or enough to power an additional 271,000 homes for a year, according to FPL.
The Turkey Point and St. Lucie upgrades are expected to save customers an estimated $141 million in the first year, FPL said, and, over the lifetime of the upgrades, they are expected to save customers $4.8 billion in fossil fuel costs.
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