Florida Power & Light seeks approval for 1,622-MW Okeechobee gas project

Florida Power & Light applied Sept. 3 at the Florida Public Service Commission for an affirmative determination of need covering the construction of a 1,622-MW combined cycle generating unit at a greenfield site in Okeechobee County, together with the associated facilities, including transmission line and substation facilities, needed to interconnect this site to FPL’s transmission network.

The unit and associated facilities are referred to collectively as the Okeechobee Clean Energy Center Unit 1 (OCEC Unit 1). FPL proposes to build a highly fuel-efficient, state-of-the-art combined cycle (CC) natural gas unit with about 1,622 MW (summer) of generation for commercial operation beginning in June 2019. This generation will allow FPL to meet a projected need for additional generation resources that begins in 2019 (1,052 MW), continues in 2020 (1,409 MW (cumulative)), and increases each year thereafter.

Once this new CC unit goes into operation, it is projected to be the most fuel-efficient CC unit on FPL’s generation system, thus further enhancing the efficiency of an already highly efficient FPL generating system, the utility told the PSC. It is also projected to be the most fuel-efficient CC unit in the state of Florida.

FPL is projecting an annual increase of 1.6% in the summer peak demand between 2015 and 2024. While the projected percentage growth is lower than the long term rate experienced historically, the absolute level of growth remains very large. An annual increase of 387 MW is projected between 2015 and 2024. By 2019, the summer peak is projected to reach 25,045 MW, a cumulative increase of 2,110 MW relative to the actual 2014 summer peak.

Based on FPL’s 2015 Ten Year Site Plan forecast, filed with the commission in April, FPL projects that by 2019, after accounting for its extensive Demand Side Management (DSM) reductions as well as significant efficiency improvements from lighting and equipment energy efficiency standards, FPL will have to add about 1,052 MW of new generation capacity over and above the capacity that will have been added prior to 2019, as a result of the previously approved uprates at FPL’s existing nuclear units and the modernization of FPL’s Cape Canaveral, Riviera Beach, and Port Everglades plants.

FPL said its request for an affirmative determination of need for OCEC Unit 1 is the culmination of extensive investigation and analyses designed to identify the best, most costeffective alternative available to meet FPL’s forecasted resource need for new generating capacity beginning in 2019, after accounting for all identified cost-effective DSM measures and renewable resources. That work included not only FPL’s assessment of its capacity need and analysis of various self-build generation options to select the most cost-effective option for meeting that need, but also the preparation and issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) that solicited proposals as alternatives to FPL’s self-build option. No RFP submission received satisfied the minimum requirements of the RFP. The RFP was reviewed and monitored by an independent evaluator, Sedway Consulting Inc.

Need for this new capacity also keyed by changes in the current power mix

At the time of filing this Sept. 3 petition, FPL’s active generation fleet totals approximately 25,072 MW (summer) of firm capacity and its generating units consist of four nuclear steam units, three coal steam units in which it holds partial ownership interests, 15 CC units, five oil/gas steam units, 48 CT units, and two solar photovoltaic (PV) units.

FPL presently has a long-term Unit Power Sales (UPS) contract to purchase up to 931 MW of coal-fired generation from Southern Co. (NYSE: SO). However, the UPS contract expires at the end of 2015, the utility noted. FPL also has contracts with the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) for the purchase of 375 MW (summer) of coal-fired generation from the St. Johns River Power Park (SJRPP) Units One and Two. Unfortunately, due to Internal Revenue Service regulations, the total amount of energy that FPL may receive from this purchase is limited, the utility said. FPL currently projects that this limit will be reached in the second quarter of 2019.

At the end of 2014, FPL had contracted to purchase firm capacity and energy from cogeneration and small power production facilities (qualifying facilities or “QFs”) totaling 1,945 MW. FPL currently projects that about 455 MW of these third party renewable contracts will be available to FPL in 2019.

FPL pointed out that it has also fostered the expansion of renewable energy sources through development of its own renewable generation projects. FPL operates three commercial-scale solar generation facilities in Florida. FPL’s two solar PV facilities, DeSoto and Space Coast, represent a combined 35 MW (nameplate). In addition, the Martin facility represents 75 MW of solar thermal (nameplate) that displaces fossil fuel usage.

Project to feature three General Electric gas turbines

OCEC Unit 1 will be configured as a CC unit, which will use three of the latest generation CTs, three heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs), and one steam driven turbine generator (STG). The exhaust gas produced by each CT then passes through an HRSG and produces steam, which, in turn, is used to drive an STG and produce additional electricity for FPL’s customers.

The OCEC Unit 1 will be a 3×1 CC unit consisting of three nominally 350-MW General Electric 7HA.02 CTs, with dry low-NOx combustors, peak-firing, inlet cooling, wet compression, and three HRSGs, which will use the waste heat from the CTs to produce steam to be utilized in a new steam turbine generator. The HRSG stacks will be approximately 149 feet tall.

Generally, new CC plants can be expected to achieve an energy conversion rate (heat rate) of less than 7,000 British thermal units (Btu) per kilowatt hour (kWh). FPL anticipates that OCEC Unit 1 will have an average base heat rate as low as approximately 6,304 Btu/kWh, based on an average ambient air temperature of 75°F. This compares very favorably to heat rate values averaging in the 10,000 Btu/kWh range for the conventional steam-electric generating units.

The CTs will use natural gas delivered by pipeline to the plant as their primary fuel. The OCEC Unit 1 site is projected to have reasonable access to a gas pipeline for necessary fuel transportation, and a new pipeline lateral will be constructed to transport natural gas to the site. FPL has sufficient gas transportation capacity to serve OCEC Unit 1. To provide a backup fuel to the unit in the event of an extended disruption of natural gas supply, OCEC Unit 1 will also be designed to burn a light fuel oil with an ultra-low sulfur content (maximum of 0.0015%), as a back-up fuel. Light fuel oil will be delivered to the site by truck, and can be stored in sufficient quantities to allow the plant to function at full capacity for 72 hours of continuous operation using back-up fuel.

With the addition of the capacity FPL has contracted for on the Sabal Trail Transmission LLC and the Florida Southeast Connection LLC pipelines beginning in 2017 – 400,000 million Btu per day (MMBtu/day) increasing to 600,000 MMBtu/day in 2020 – FPL said it will have needed gas transportation rights to meet the requirements of OCEC Unit 1.

OCEC Unit 1 will connect to a new 500 kV transmission switchyard on the OCEC Unit 1 property. Transmission lines from the existing Martin-Poinsett 500-kV line will be looped into the new switchyard to interconnect to the FPL transmission grid. The Florida Reliability Coordinating Council (FRCC) has determined that FPL’s proposed transmission interconnection and integration plan will be reliable and adequate and will not adversely impact the FRCC transmission system reliability.

The cooling water source for OCEC Unit 1 will be groundwater from the Floridan Aquifer. The surficial aquifer will be used for process and potable water.

The new CC unit is estimated to have an equivalent availability factor of up to 96.7% based on an estimated average forced outage factor of approximately 1.1% and a planned outage factor of 2.2%.

The total construction cost of OCEC Unit 1 will be $1,196.0 million. Principal components include the power block at $1,031.5 million, transmission interconnection and integration at $52 million, and allowance for funds used during construction (AFUDC) at $112.5 million.

FPL has other gas-fired projects in the works, as well

This is one of four gas-fired projects that FPL outlined in a Ten Year Power Plant Site Plan filed April 1 at the Florida Public Service Commission. Those new gas-fired additions are:

  • The Fort Myers plant additions would be two CTs, of 211 MW (summer net, plus 20 MW peaking capacity) apiece, to be commercial in 2016. The existing plant consists of one natural gas-fired combined cycle (CC) unit, two natural gas- and oil-fired CT units, and one bank of 12 oil-fired GTs (peaking facilities) that have a combined capacity of 2,403 summer MW. Presently, the bank of 12 first generation GTs (which started operation in the early 1970s) provide power during periods of peak demand and black start capability in the event of a power outage. FPL plans to add the two new CTs and retire ten of the existing GTs by the end of 2016. The two new CTs will be more efficient with cleaner air emissions than the existing GTs. In addition, the two existing CTs will be upgraded to produce additional generation capacity. 
  • At Lauderdale, the plan is for five CTs of the same capacity as those at Fort Myers, also to be commercially operating in 2016. The Lauderdale Plant currently includes two combined cycle units and two banks of 12 first generation simple cycle GTs that began operation in the early 1970s. These GTs are used to serve peak and emergency demands in a quick-start manner. Each bank of GTs has a net capacity of 420 MW and they are authorized to operate on natural gas and distillate oil. This GT removal with CT replacement is assumed to occur by the end of 2016. 
  • Due for commercial operation in 2019 would be the Okeechobee Clean Energy Center.
  • There is also a gas-fired project called the “Unsited 3×1 CC,” which would go commercial in 2023 and be 1,317 MW (summer net) in size.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.