By Jacksonville Business Journal

The JEA Board today authorized the signing to spend up to $7.5 million to reserve an option to buy one-fifth of a yet-to-be-built nuclear power plant.

JEA will have the option to spend about $2 billion for 400 megawatts of annual capacity from the unspecified plant, which is expected to begin operating in 10 years. The move followed the boardâ¿¿s decision in August to increase the amount of its electric grid powered by nuclear power from 10 percent to 30 percent by 2030.

JEA has a deal to power about 10 percent of its electric grid using electricity bought from the yet-to-be-built nuclear plant near Waynesboro, Ga., when it goes online in 2018. The option authorized Tuesday does not involve the Waynesboro plant.

JEA CEO Jim Dickenson previously said there is federal support for not factoring nuclear-powered electricity into a proposed national standard requiring utilities to power 20 percent of their grid via renewable energy. He added that as the construction of nuclear plants is paid off, nuclear electricity could cost about $60 per megawatt-hour.

Coal generation costs about $60 per megawatt-hour but would go up if a new federal standard for carbon emissions was imposed. Electric generation through natural gas costs between $40 and $50 per megawatt-hour.

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