With Florida’s unemployment rate hovering above 8.5 percent, finding a bright spot in our economy can be challenging. Yet, during the past couple of years, a massive upgrade to the Turkey Point plant has created thousands of construction-related jobs and contributed millions of dollars to the economy right here in Miami-Dade County.
Earlier this year, I visited Turkey Point to welcome thousands of temporary workers to the plant and our community. These carpenters, welders, mechanics, painters and electricians are currently upgrading the plant’s pipes, valves and other pieces of equipment. In fact, about 1,000 of the workers were hired locally.
Since it began, this project has had a positive impact on the local economy. The approximately $11 million per month spent by the workers in the form of gas, rent, utilities and entertainment has helped boost profits for local businesses, specifically for area landlords, restaurants and hotels. In one hotel alone, rooms have been nearly sold out for a year.
This project will continue well into the spring of next year as FPL continues the work on the upgrades. As a result, local businesses have reaped great benefits, and that’s good news for us all.
Recently I was pleased to learn that after an exhaustive safety review, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave FPL the green light to begin producing more clean energy when the upgrade projects are completed. And, over the long haul, these projects will benefit our community in terms of lower energy costs, reliable power and clean air.
After completing the upgrades at Turkey Point and at another plant in Jensen Beach, FPL will produce 15 percent more electricity that will benefit an additional 271,000 residential customers. The power output from the upgraded units will be about equal to that of a brand new mid-size power plant — without having to actually build one — and the company projects that it will save customers nearly $4 billion in fuel costs over the projects’ lifetime.
While the massive upgrade will come to an end in the spring of next year, every 18 months thousands of workers will return to our area to work on maintenance and refueling at the plant.
We are lucky to have a good neighbor like Turkey Point.
Steven C. Bateman, mayor, Homestead