NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) subsidiary Florida Power & Light (FPL) has passed a key milestone in development of a new 1,250-MW natural gas power plant scheduled to come online in 2014.
FPL said Oct. 22 that it has completed a series of operational tests on the first of three natural gas-powered combustion turbines at its new Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center in Palm Beach County, Fla.
FPL is investing more than $1bn to build the combined-cycle plant that will use 33% less fuel per megawatt than the old plant, which FPL tore down in 2011.
NextEra’s regulated electric utility in Florida has been on a natural gas plant building spree in recent years. The most recent addition was the Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center that began commercial operation in April.
In December 2012, the Florida Public Service Commission approved a base rate increase for customers to help cover the costs of FPL’s new gas-fired generation. Also in December 2012, FPL issued a request for proposals (RFP) to build a third major gas pipeline to serve Florida.
In July of this year, Spectra Energy (NYSE:SE) announced that a joint venture with NextEra had been awarded a 456-mile natural gas pipeline project to serve FPL plants.
Also in July, FPL demolished its 1960s-era Port Everglades power plant to make way for a new energy center that will open in 2016. FPL’s efforts already have helped cut fuel costs by more than $6 billion since 2001 – savings that have been passed on directly to its customers, FPL said in a statement.
Riviera Beach testing started in September
Initial testing at Riviera Beach, which began in late September, included a variety of assessments and operating the combustion turbine at 25 MW of electricity. When completed in 2014, the plant will be capable of generating up to 1,250 MW – enough power to serve approximately 250,000 customers.
This first combustion turbine is now being utilized to conduct a series of steam pipe-cleaning activities to ensure that the facility’s piping is ready for full operation. Testing is underway on the second combustion turbine, with testing on the third unit scheduled for November.
In June 2011, FPL demolished the 1960s-era Riviera Beach power plant and recycled nearly all of the debris. Construction on the new plant began in late 2011 and created an estimated 650 direct jobs at peak construction, providing significant financial benefit for local businesses.
Zachry is the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for Riviera.