Duke Energy wins Florida approval for key natural gas projects

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) has won approval of the need for two key natural gas power generation projects from the Florida Public Service Commission.

The PSC said Oct. 2 that it has awarded Duke Energy Florida (DEF) determination of need approval for both the Citrus County combined-cycle power plant and the Hines Chillers power uprate project.

With the approval, Duke plans to construct a natural gas-fired, combined cycle power plant on a site adjacent to its Crystal River Energy Complex in Citrus County.  Beginning in December 2018, the 1,640-MW facility will provide enough energy to power approximately 110,000 residential homes. The proposed plant is projected to result in savings of $477m to $1.2bn when compared to other alternatives, the PSC said.

The Hines Project involves installation of a chiller system that will cool the gas turbine inlet air to four existing power blocks at DEF’s Hines Energy Complex in Bartow. With service beginning in summer 2017, the project will contribute an additional 220 MW of summer capacity and could save customers from $90m to $140m, when compared to other alternatives.

“Both projects will also bring new jobs to the state and help meet federal emissions standards,” said PSC Chairman Art Graham.

DEF had an additional proposal for a generating plant in Suwannee County, but the PSC didn’t consider it after evidence was introduced indicating existing generating facilities could be bought at a substantially lower cost to customers. 

In response to that concern, Duke negotiated a preliminary agreement to buy the Osprey Energy Center from Calpine (NYSE:CPN) and agreed to withdraw the Suwannee facility.

With the premature retirement of its Crystal River 3 nuclear facility, Duke has been looking to expand its natural gas power generation in Florida.


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.