Florida PSC okays NextEra’s 1,633-MW Okeechobee gas-fired project

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) on Jan. 5 approved the need for Florida Power & Light‘s (FPL) proposed Okeechobee Clean Energy Center (OCEC) Unit 1, a natural gas, combined cycle power plant in Okeechobee County.

Expected to begin service in June 2019, the plant is projected to save customers at least $72 million as compared to the next best building alternative. The plant will also benefit Florida’s economy, creating jobs during the two-year construction period and also adding about 30 full time positions when the facility begins operations.

“FPL’s OCEC Unit 1 will ensure continued efficient and reliable energy generation for FPL’s customers, which will also translate into millions of dollars of savings for its customers,” said PSC Chairman Julie Brown.

FPL filed a petition in September 2015 proposing to construct OCEC Unit 1 on utility-owned property. Estimated to cost $1.2 billion, the facility will generate 1,633 MW at summer peak. Light oil will be used as a back-up fuel for OCEC Unit 1, enhancing overall fuel supply reliability. Pending other federal and state approvals, work will begin in 2017.

“The FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center represents another major milestone in our successful program of phasing out older power-generating units and investing in new, high-efficiency clean energy centers that reduce emissions and save our customers money on fuel costs,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “Not only is the FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center the most cost-effective option for meeting Florida’s future energy needs, it will also help us keep our customers’ bills low for the long term and further reduce emissions from our system, which is already among the cleanest and most affordable in the nation.”

The FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center is part of the company’s ongoing strategy of modernizing its system – investing in fuel-efficient power generation that uses clean, U.S.-produced natural gas, zero-emissions nuclear or solar energy while phasing out older, less fuel-efficient plants that use coal and oil. FPL continues to make progress on long-term plans for new nuclear power and, by the end of 2016, expects to have completed three new large-scale solar energy centers in Florida.

The project site is comprised of approximately 2,341 acres of FPL’s 2,842 acre property located adjacent to the existing 500-kV transmission system in northeastern Okeechobee County. The site includes an area designated for potential future development of approximately 200 MW of photovoltaic (PV) solar generation that will bring the net ultimate site capacity to 1,800 MW (nominal).

FPL said the site is ideally located in an area adjacent to both natural gas and electrical transmission through lateral connections or existing structures. The site also has groundwater available to support plant operations including process water, steam cycle makeup, cooling water makeup, and miscellaneous plant uses.

The OCEC Unit 1 will be a net 1,600-MW (nominal) 3-on-1 combined cycle unit that will consist of three new advanced-technology combustion turbine/electric generators (CTs), three new heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs), and one steam turbine/electric generator, along with on-site supporting facilities.

FPL is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving approximately 4.8 million customer accounts across nearly half of the state of Florida. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,700 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE).

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.