September 6, 2017 / 9:40 PM / 20 days ago

Two Florida nuclear plants likely to shut if Irma stays on path

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Energy firm Florida Power & Light (FPL) said on Wednesday it could shut its four nuclear reactors in the path of Hurricane Irma before Saturday if the storm stayed on its current path.

“Based on the current track, we would expect severe weather in Florida starting Saturday, meaning we would potentially shut down before that point,” spokesman Peter Robbins said in an email.

The company, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc, is watching the weather and would adjust any plans as necessary, Robbins said.

The trajectory of Irma, a Category 5 storm with winds of 185 miles per hour (295 km per hour), is uncertain. Irma, which the U.S. National Hurricane Center said was the strongest Atlantic storm on record, was expected to pass near or just north of Puerto Rico on Wednesday before scraping the Dominican Republic on Thursday.

FPL operates the St. Lucie nuclear power plant on Hutchinson Island, a barrier island on the Atlantic about 55 miles (88 km) north of West Palm Beach. Two reactors generate 2,000 megawatts of electricity, enough power to supply more than 1 million homes.

It also operates Turkey Point nuclear power station on Biscayne Bay, about 24 miles south of Miami. That has two reactors that generate about 1,600 megawatts of electricity, or enough for about 900,000 homes.

Robbins said the plants were designed to withstand extreme natural events including hurricanes and serious floods.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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