“Dino,” who welcomed visitors to Turkey Point for many years, is now “Rosie” (literally, looking at her new coat of paint) greeting everyone at the South Florida Science Center in West Palm Beach.

Hello everyone. My name is Rosie. In case we haven’t met, I’m the Tyrannosaurus rex that stood at the entrance of the Turkey Point Clean Energy Center for many wonderful years – a greeting job I took very seriously. Over the years, I had the opportunity to meet many special visitors and to give a friendly wave hello and goodbye to all my teammates. And seeing how some of my old dinosaur buddies ended up at the plant, in other ways shall we say, I was honored to hold my position.

I recently retired. Like retirement does for many, it has given me time to reflect on my days at Turkey Point. Hearing what they are doing next at the plant excites me, especially to see my former teammates and friends paving the way for the future. This is my story, but I’ll hope you’ll consider it our story.

Turkey Point opened in 1967, and I arrived at the plant ready for work a year later. At that time, only fossil units 1 and 2 were in operation, but that changed when nuclear units 3 and 4 came online in 1972 and 1973 respectively. Since beginning work, I got to go through everything side-by-side with my team including challenges, celebrations and goodbyes.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew hit the site. I rode out the storm with many of my teammates, looking the storm straight in its eye as it bore down on us. The site had its challenges but came through it with resilience and rose up to help rebuild our community in its time of need.

Ten years later, we welcomed good news with open arms as both nuclear units were licensed for an additional 20 years of operation. And in 2007, we all cheered as the new, more efficient, natural gas unit 5 became operational. But like all things with a beginning, there was an ending. In 2016, we bid farewell to the original fossil units in an effort to provide cleaner energy.

I recently caught up with some old friends of mine at the plant.

They all tell me that once again the team is leading the charge by updating the site in an innovative, modern way.

“We’re no longer simply a traditional generation site, we’re now in the renewable business,” said Turkey Point Land Utilization Manager Bob Bertelson. “The plant’s entrance has been lined with solar trees, and there are many more around the site.”

The solar trees are not the only improvements the site has seen. Signage has been updated, tanks have been painted and the site has been renamed as the aforementioned Florida Power & Light Company’s Turkey Point Clean Energy Center.

When I spoke with Turkey Point’s Natural Gas Regional Plant General Manager Gary Kowalczyk, he said, “All the upgrades have made the site an even greater point of pride. Mixing renewables with the traditional forms of

energy generation creates a wonderful visual representation of where we are going as an organization. It takes all ways of generating energy together for us to provide reliable service.”

I’m even told the new landscaping on the drive into the plant now resembles that of Magnolia Lane at Augusta National Golf Club. I may be exaggerating a tad, but it’s what I’d like to envision, since I’ve been told new sod, flowers and other foliage have been planted.

Why all the changes though you ask? It’s all being done in an effort to modernize and innovate the site in order to continue powering South Florida with clean energy for years to come. Today, FPL’s strategy to build 30 million solar panels by 2030 throughout the state of Florida is possible because of a bridging technology found in nuclear power and natural gas. Just last year, FPL filed for an additional 20 years of nuclear power at Turkey Point, hoping for subsequent relicensing through 2052 and 2053.

“Our community continues to change and grow, and we must do so as well to meet its needs,” said Turkey Point Nuclear Plant Site Director Brian Stamp. “As that happens, we are working to ensure our homes and businesses are powered, in part, with around-the-clock clean energy well into the future.”

It excites me knowing the entire Turkey Point team models for the rest of our industry how the varying forms of providing electricity are critically tied together. I may be retired now, but there’s no need to worry about me. I’m keeping busy at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium after taking a volunteer job. You guessed it, once again as a greeter.

I used to greet those creating the future, and now I’m inspiring the multitudes of children who will continue our legacy. When our younger generations enter the building, I hope they see me a few short steps away from the solar tree and marvel at just how far the energy industry has come – and realistically, in what is an insignificantly small amount of time. Trust me, I remember the asteroid!

I believe being a few short steps away from the solar tree is a beautiful metaphor. Each small step they take represents learning from our past while working to bring about the next era of energy.

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