What do you think of power plants?

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By The Staff

The public gets its one opportunity to tell the Levy County Commission what they think of Progress Energy's plans to build a two-unit nuclear plant near Inglis in a public informational meeting.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday in Courtroom A of the Levy County Courthouse in Bronson.

A legal notice for the meeting says its purpose is to inform the public about the power plant and transmission lines proposed in the county, to obtain public comments and to assist the commissioners in making their recommendation to the state on the project.

Representatives of the state Department of Environmental Protection and Progress Energy will be attending the meeting.

The proposed nuclear plant site is on 5,100 acres Progress Energy owns in the southern part of the county. The company says the plant's construction would generate 800 permanent jobs and 1,000 to 2,000 indirect positions, while also creating as many as 3,000 temporary jobs during construction.

The state Public Service Commission affirmed the need for the plants at a July 15 meeting.

Progress Energy applied for a nuclear plant license to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission last week.

If the plants move forward without delay they would be in operation in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Total cost for the project is $14 billion, including the nuclear fuel, and $3 billion for the 200 miles of transmission lines and equipment.

Progress says the new plant is needed because, despite the economic downturn, the region served by the company is one of the fastest growing in the country. Since the company's units at Crystal River came on line in the 1970s, the company's customer base has doubled.

The company says Florida ranks third in the nation in per capita energy consumption. Homes have grown larger by 50 percent in the past 30 years, while consuming 30 percent more energy.