Building a nuclear power plant might sound like an absurd, impossible idea, but Disney’s political clout in the 1970s prompted Florida legislators to write up a law giving the popular brand the authority to do exactly that. The real question is whether or not Disney has plans to build such a nuclear reactor in order to power its ever-growing theme park.
Right now, it seems like the answer is a resounding “no.” In fact, Disney is already drawing enormous amounts of power from the sun after installing a new 50MW solar farm, in addition to a smaller farm that went online in 2016.
Even though Disney shows no interest in adding a nuclear reactor to the mix, Florida legislators have been contemplating nixing the old law to prevent the family-friendly theme park from doing so in the future.
Rep. Bruce Antone may draft a bill to take away Disney’s nuclear option while also giving firefighters at Reedy Creek more protection. While it may sound like an obvious solution to prevent a somewhat unlikely scenario, he acknowledges that taking away the option might prevent the park from implementing nuclear-related technologies developed in the future, such as safer forms of fission or the long sought after nuclear fusion.
Others have pointed out that new legislation wouldn’t mean a thing because the authority to determine where a nuclear power plant can and cannot be built is now under the purview of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Part of the licensing process for building such a plant is the hefty price tag: upwards of a billion dollars. Considering the falling prices of solar energy, it seems almost certain that Disney’s Orlando theme park would never try to capitalize on nuclear energy.
The 1967 law harkens back to a time during which Disney attempted to protect itself from overreaching government regulation, or circumvent it all together, and Florida was anxious for the new park to be built there. Legislators gave Disney similar powers to that of a county government. Imagine the public outcry if legislators did the same for Amazon or Google. The political climate is much different than it was fifty years ago, and so is Disney’s sway over the powers that be.
Part of that difference is the acceptance of nuclear power in general. Back then, it was assumed that nuclear power was the future. Now, Disney’s representatives paint a picture of more renewable and sustainable energies in the future.