FPL estimates it will save more than $100 million a year in fossil fuel costs.
FPL first asked state and federal utility regulators for permission to do the uprate project in 2007, after its bid to build a clean coal-fired plant was twice rejected.
It has been a major undertaking, using the brainpower of more than 1,000 engineers and requiring more than 22 million man hours, mostly from highly skilled workers.
Thats more man hours than it took to build the tallest building in the world, in Dubai, Kiley said.
Construction began about three years ago at Turkey Point, two miles east of Homestead in far South Miami-Dade. A dinosaur statue marks the entrance to the 3,300-acre facility, which also includes a natural gas combined cycle unit and two fossil fuel units to make Turkey Point the countrys sixth largest electricity-producing plant.
During construction, the workforce at its twin nuclear units climbed from 800 to more than 5,000 with people working 12-hour shifts, six days a week, often in high temperatures and shirt-soaking humidity.
About 6,000 components were replaced or upgraded, including pipes, valves, wires, rotors, fans, generators and turbines. Many of the components look like super-sized versions of familiar car and house parts.
The project also required a $10 million, 592,000-pound transformer, shipped from Austria. And it was just a spare.
Turkey Point no longer is the chaotic beehive of activity that it has been for the past three years. The large cranes are now gone. Most of the scaffolding and the spaghetti of temporary wires also have been removed. The completion checklist is down to items such as painting and insulating pipes.
On the way to the control room earlier this week, Kiley stopped a moment to point out the vibrating concrete floor. It was from the turbine that spins at 1,800 revolutions per minute, just part of the process to create electricity from uranium fuel that arrives as harmless pellets about the size of a small eraser.
One pellet is equal in BTUs to one ton of coal, he said. (A British thermal unit is the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit).
Chris Trent, a control room supervisor at Turkey Point, was not even born when Unit 4 was originally constructed in 1973. Today, there are many redundant systems in place to prevent failure and maintain safety. He also goes through training every six weeks, as is the case with the other 67 licensed control room operators at Turkey Point.
The upgrade project has been challenging. It initially was expected to cost $1.5 billion in 2007, but the bill has ended up double, primarily due to complexity that could not be determined until the engineering was completed.
After so many long days, Kiley said, everyone was eager for Unit 4 to be synched to the grid. But the expected startup date was delayed a few days as engineers fine-tuned the air pressure around the generator to make sure that when it is run at 100 percent there is adequate cooling. While frustrating, the delays are routine, Kiley said.
Once Unit 3 first was connected to the grid after its overhaul, it took three months of testing to get it running at 100 percent capacity. With all the lessons learned, Unit 4, its identical twin, is expected to take only one month.
We want to be at 100 percent power before the summer hits for the customers, Kiley said. Thats when they need the electricity the most.
Next for Turkey Point is building two new nuclear units. The plant currently is in the process of trying to obtain state and federal permits.