NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) utility Florida Power & Light (FPL) said July 2 that it plans to add a new 1,600-MW combined-cycle natural gas plant, FPL Okeechobee, to its fleet in 2019.
The estimated $1.2bn investment would create an average of 300 jobs during the two-year construction process and as many as 600 jobs during peak work periods, FPL said in a news release.
FPL has previously talked about the project in its 10-year resource plan filed with the state.
If approved by regulators, the new plant would be built on company-owned property in northeastern Okeechobee County, Fla., and enter service by mid-2019. The facility would complement other major system improvements, including the three new large-scale solar power plants that FPL is building before the end of 2016.
The plant would be built on a large site that could eventually accommodate utility-scale solar energy generation, FPL said.
Before the proposed new plant can be built, plans must undergo comprehensive reviews by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Public Service Commission and a number of other county, state and federal government agencies – a process expected to take 14-16 months.
FPL intends to file for regulatory approval in the coming months. If the planned facility receives all needed approvals on the anticipated schedule, construction would start in 2017, and the new plant would begin powering customers in mid-2019.
FPL issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) during the first quarter of 2015 to invite prospective bids from interested power providers for firm generation. Despite substantial early interest from more than 20 companies, none chose to compete with FPL’s Okeechobee Clean Energy Center proposal. The company received only one partial bid that did not conform to the terms of the RFP and fell far short of meeting the required energy need.
FPL expects to build the proposed new facility for a cost of approximately $670 per kilowatt, which is lower in cost than any comparable plant being built in the world today.
“We’re building on our successful strategy of phasing out older, inefficient facilities and replacing them with advanced, high-efficiency clean-energy technology in a way that ensures we can meet the growing energy needs of Floridians while keeping their electric rates low,” said FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy. “The strategy is working: our system is among the cleanest and most fuel-efficient in the U.S., and our typical customer bills are about 30 percent lower than the national average.”
FPL operates a diverse portfolio of energy sources, including solar, nuclear and natural gas, to power the state’s growing population and economy. The company currently serves approximately 4.8 million customer accounts in Florida, a number expected to increase to 5 million accounts serving more than 10 million people by 2019. As part of its ten-year forecast of future energy requirements filed with the Florida PSC in March 2015, FPL projected a significant need for additional firm power generation beginning in 2019 – and more in the years that follow.
The company’s forecast takes into account substantial energy conservation and the addition of three new large-scale solar plants that FPL expects to complete in 2016. It also includes the FPL Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center, the company’s most recent natural gas power plant modernization project, which continues to progress on budget and on schedule to enter service in mid-2016. FPL previously completed similar major modernizations, building high-efficiency, natural gas-fueled clean energy centers at Cape Canaveral and Riviera Beach in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Both projects were completed ahead of schedule and under budget, FPL said.