Crystal River nuclear plant power boost on track

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While Duke Energy has yet to report a decision to repair or retire the Crystal River nuclear plant, the application process for increasing its power output is moving ahead.

Feb. 15 is the deadline for commenting on the draft environmental assessment to the proposed license amendment to increase the maximum reactor power level by 15.5 percent.

The procedure, called a power uprate, is designed to increase the output of a nuclear reactor. 

Progress Energy Florida is seeking an extended power uprate, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines as requiring significant modifications to major plant equipment. The plant has already received two previous smaller power increases in 2002 and 2007. Progress submitted the application for the current uprate in June 2011 with a completion date of June 2013. 

The project will cost an estimated $617 million, according to 2012 Public Service Commission report. A portion of the cost will show up on electric bills since the project is covered by advance nuclear funding.

According to the assessment, the project will need about 1,350 temporary workers. After completion, the plant would return to regular staffing. Another potential impact cited would be the increased taxable value of CR3 as a result of the uprate.

Overall, the NRC concluded granting the license amendment is not expected to cause anymore significant impact than the current operation. 

“That application is proceeding,” NRC public affairs officer Joey Ledford said. “Our assumption is the application is to go forward.”