If you’re driving in the Palm Beaches or along the Treasure Coast in the early morning hours, don’t be surprised if you see a truck the size of a football field inching along the road beside you.
Florida Power & Light Company is moving a massive transformer from the Port of Palm Beach to the Treasure Coast. It will become a key component in the company’s upgrades of the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant.
When you consider a piece of equipment that’s 15-feet tall and weighs 700,000 pounds, moving it even one inch becomes a logistical challenge.
“To minimize traffic disruptions and comply with Florida DOT procedures, we are moving this equipment in the early morning hours,” said Mike Waldron, Director of Nuclear Communications for FPL. “We are taking every precaution to ensure it’s moved safely to its final destination, with the least amount of inconvenience as possible to the public.”
The transformer started its trek from the port Monday night, Sept. 12, onboard a 286-foot long transporter truck. When it arrives at the St. Lucie Power Plant on Wednesday, following an overnight stay in Ft. Pierce, crews will offload the equipment using hydraulic jacks. They will move it along rails called “runway beams” that are lubricated with Teflon pads and common dish soap to help ease it into place.
The transformer, once installed, is part of an extensive project to improve the efficiency of the St. Lucie Plant and enable greater power production. Components such as pipes, valves, pumps, heat exchangers, electrical transformers and generators will be replaced or upgraded to accommodate the conditions that would exist at higher power levels.
“FPL customers are already seeing some significant benefits from this project,” said Waldron. “As a result of the upgrades we have already made, customers have saved $30,000 a day, or approximately $1 million per month in fuel costs. That’s because we are making the plant more fuel efficient.”
Waldron noted that the improvements to both St. Lucie and Turkey Point Plants will replace the need for approximately 5 million barrels of oil each year, reducing CO2 emissions by 33 million tons over the life of the project.
The project will employ approximately 4,000 contractors. The new transformer will be installed at the plant during its planned outage, beginning Nov. 26.