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Point Beach nuclear power plant ready to make 17 percent more electricity

The Point Beach nuclear power plant in Manitowoc County wants to make 17 percent more electricity.

Its owner, Next-Era Energy, has asked the federal government for its approval.

But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it must first consider a licensing change for the plant's operator, the FPL Group of Florida.

And the NRC's Viktoria Mytling says it will be sometime after 2011 before a final decision is made.

Point Beach has two reactors that make just more than 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

The expansion would boost its output by 170 megawatts, or enough power to serve 85,000 homes. We Energies, the state's largest utility, buys all the power from Point Beach.

The utility has the first dibs on any additional energy, but it has not made a decision yet.

Brian Manthey of We Energies says it could be an attractive option, because the proposed cap and trade law would make it more expensive to run the utility's coal-fired power plants.

He said We Energies locked in prices a few years ago for the extra power that Point Beach could make.

Wisconsin has a 30-year-old ban on new nuclear power plants, but it's not against the law to expand existing plants.

The state's only other nuclear plant is in Kewaunee. Officials there say they have no current plans to expand.