Florida PSC backs FPL Port Everglades gas plant

The Florida Public Service Commission  has approved a request by NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE) subsidiary Florida Power & Light (FPL)  to build a new 1,277-MW combined-cycle gas power plant to replace older generating units.

The PSC’s March 27 action establishes the need for FPL to construct the new $1.2bn Port Everglades combined-cycle gas unit at its existing site. FPL is targeting commercial operation in June 2016. Rates won’t be affected until the plant actually begins operation, said a PSC representative.

A PSC fact sheet on the decision notes that FPL needs the new generation to meet a required 20% reserve margin by 2016. In addition, FPL will see about 1,300 MW in power purchase agreements expire soon, the PSC said.

FPL must still get Florida Department of Environmental Protection permits for the plant, said an FPL spokesperson.

Four 1960s-era oil and natural gas fueled steam electric generating units currently at the site will be dismantled as part of the construction project. If FPL is able to get all its approvals on schedule, it hopes to start demolishing the old units in June 2013.  

The PSC said in a press release that the new Port Everglades project should save FPL customers $469m, compared to continued use of the existing units in Broward County.

The new combined-cycle plant should use about 35% less fuel than the current generating units use while operating, said the FPL spokesman. The current units, while rated at 1,200 MW, don’t run much anymore, the spokesperson said.

Compared to the former plant, the new plant would cut the carbon dioxide emissions rate in half and reduce air emissions by more than 90%, according to an FPL fact sheet on the project.

Building at the existing site will enable FPL to make use of existing infrastructure, the utility has said. Construction will begin in 2014 and is expected to generate 650 jobs.

A PSC hearing Feb. 20 provided an opportunity for public comment and for the utility, Commission staff, and an intervenor, Florida Power Industrial Users Group, to present evidence about the need for the proposed modernization.

FPL has been expanding its natural gas generation in Florida over the past few years bringing on new units at the West County gas-fired complex.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.