Duke Energy will build new combined-cycle plant near Crystal River

In a move that was not unexpected, a Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) subsidiary said May 13 that it plans to build a new combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County, Fla., and two simple-cycle combustion turbine generators at the Suwannee Plant near Live Oak, Fla.

In all, Duke plans to add more than 2,000 MW of new gas-fired capacity in Florida over the next few years. The company said a self-build option would be the most economical.

After a months-long request for proposals process, Duke Energy Florida has selected its self-build option to construct a 1,640-MW combined-cycle natural gas plant to help serve Florida’s approximately 1.7 million customers starting in 2018. The anticipated cost to build the new plant is about $1.5bn, including financing costs.

Duke Energy Florida said that it has filed plans with the Florida Public Service Commission.

The new plant will be located on 400 acres adjacent to the existing Crystal River Energy Complex. If all regulatory approvals are received, construction is expected to start in early 2016. The plant’s first 820 MW are expected to come online in spring 2018, and the second 820 MW are expected to be available by December 2018.

The plant will receive natural gas through a new pipeline Sabal Trail Transmission is constructing. The pipeline will start in Alabama, extend through Georgia and end in Central Florida. Sabal Trail Transmission will license, construct and operate the natural gas pipeline.

Additionally, Duke will install new equipment at the Hines Energy Complex near Bartow to increase efficiency and power output.

Officials also announced the retirement timeline for two coal-fired units (Units 1 and 2) at the Crystal River Energy Complex. Duke Energy had already retired the troubled Crystal River 3 (CR3) nuclear facility. The larger, newer Crystal River Units 3 and 4 coal facilities are not affected. Crystal River 1 and 2 will be retired when the Citrus County combined-cycle plant becomes operational.

Simple-cycle units planned near Live Oak

To meet customers’ energy needs starting in 2016 as identified in Duke Energy Florida’s 10-year site plan, the company also plans to build two simple-cycle combustion turbine generators on 68 acres at the Suwannee Plant.

The 320 MW of generation will accommodate peak electricity demand and serve customers beginning in 2016. The anticipated cost to build the units is approximately $197m, including financing costs.

The three steam plants built in the 1950s are slated to be retired in 2016 when the combustion turbine generators become operational in 2018.

At the Hines Energy Complex in Polk County, which has four combined-cycle power blocks, Duke Energy Florida plans to install inlet air chilling units to increase efficiency and power output during the hot summer months. Chillers are like air conditioning units, cooling the outside air that is used during the combustion process.

By 2017, these upgrades will add about 220 MW to the plant’s existing 1,912 MW of generation. The anticipated cost to install the chillers is approximately $160m, including financing costs.

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.