Turkey Point’s Positive Impact on South Florida
Aug. 7, 2013—When Autumn Walker and her family recently moved to a new house in Homestead, Fla., she immediately grasped the benefits of living near the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant and in Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) service area.
“As a consumer and a financial professional, I’m well aware of bottom-line impacts,” Walker said. “I’m now saving about one-third off my electric bill in a house that’s twice the size!”
Walker is the chief financial officer for the American Way Foundation in Homestead and is attuned to financial matters. She has plenty of company in her perspective on Turkey Point, judging by sentiments expressed at a mid-July gathering of local businesses owners and members of the Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce. The potential construction of two new reactors at the Turkey Point site is a development they would welcome.
The macro-economic impact of a nuclear power plant on nearby communities is well-documented. Each year, an average nuclear power plant of 1,000 megawatts in capacity generates about $470 million in economic output in the local community and more than $40 million in total labor income, both direct and indirect. The two operating reactors at Turkey Point are responsible for about 700 permanent jobs. Those numbers are expected to double if Turkey Point 6 and 7 are built and begin operating sometime in the middle of the next decade.
“The most important benefit is obviously the employment—the jobs the plant creates and the overflow as far as housing and restaurants,” said Rosa Brito, the chamber’s executive director and a local realtor. “But the most tangible evidence of the plant’s benefit is its partnerships with the community that people outside generally don’t see.”
That view is shared by Corey Gold, vice president of administration at Homestead Hospital, who praises FPL for its participation in the hospital’s fundraising and civic outreach efforts as well as its role as an economic driver.
Homestead Hospital "wouldn't have been here without Turkey Point," said Corey Gold,
the hospital's vice president of administration.
“FPL employees have good health insurance and they and their families use the hospital’s services in a variety of ways,” Gold said. “But equally important is that the city has benefited from the plant with three new high schools, including charter schools, and a new hospital that wouldn’t have been here without Turkey Point.”
Brito said that FPL is “here to help us.” The company sponsors several local civic activities and has one of the most expansive land conservation and wildlife habitat programs in the state. For example, the facility’s nurturing of the American crocodile has resulted in its revival to the extent that Florida no longer lists it as an endangered species.
Rosa Brito is executive director of the Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce and a local realtor.
Brito also is excited about the agreement between FPL and Miami-Dade County to use more than 65 million gallons a day of treated wastewater that would be disposed of in the ocean or deep wells as cooling water for the new units at Turkey Point. By using this resource, the demand on other waters sources for cooling would be significantly reduced.
But the plant’s benefit Brito appreciates the most is FPL’s partnership with Miami Dade College’s local campus, where the company funds the education of the next generation of nuclear plant workers for jobs paying 36 percent more than average.
FPL supports Miami Dade College's Electrical Power Technology program. Each student participates in an internship at FPL as a component of the program.
“Many of these kids are minorities who wouldn’t have the opportunity to get this kind of education and move into great jobs without FPL’s support,” Brito said.
Steve Shiver, chief executive officer of consulting firm Global Management Services, served for years on the City of Homestead Council and a term as mayor. He has witnessed first-hand the benefits of Turkey Point and the dedication of FPL.
“I would have local businesspeople sit at my desk when I was mayor and complain that they had to pay twice as much for electricity from another company than a business a block away did from FPL,” Shiver said. “It’s all because of the low cost of producing electricity from the nuclear plants at Turkey Point.”
To Shiver, who lived out of state for a number of years before moving back to Homestead, there is incontrovertible evidence of the economic and environmental benefits to be gained from the new reactors at Turkey Point. The support is there for people familiar with the plant. The challenge is making others knowledgeable of the situation.
“There’s a small percentage of fear mongers opposing the plant who are the most vocal and get the most attention from the media,” Shiver said. “But probably 80 percent of the people in the community aren’t familiar with the plant issues, and that’s the group that needs to be educated on what Turkey Point has done for us in the past, and can do so in the future,” Shiver said.
As for FPL’s stewardship of the plant and its interaction with the community, Shiver said the company’s response during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and over the ensuing decades is salient.
“After Hurricane Andrew the National Guard didn’t get here for five days. FPL was already here on the ground working right away and it’s in all of our best interests to have that kind of response,” Shiver said. “I’m glad to be home because having that close of an asset is very reassuring. You can pretty well be guaranteed that your assets will be protected. My hat’s off to FPL.”