Duke to break ground March 2 on 1,640-MW Citrus County project in Florida

On March 2, Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the 1,640-MW, combined-cycle, gas-fired in Citrus County project, which will help serve Florida’s 1.7 million customers starting in 2018.

The new plant is to be located right next door to Duke Energy Florida‘s Crystal River power plant, which has four operating coal units, two of which (Units 1 and 2) would be retired around the time the Citrus County project comes on-line.

“Building highly efficient natural gas plants is part of Duke Energy’s balanced approach to meeting future demand for reliable and increasingly clean electricity,” said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy Florida’s state president, in a Feb. 25 statement. “Since 2008, we have reduced our air emissions by nearly 80 percent and our carbon footprint by 15 percent. This state-of-the-art, highly-efficient plant will help us further reduce carbon emissions.”

The combined-cycle natural gas plant is to be among the largest under construction in the industry and one of the most important projects for Duke Energy. It will replace generation from plant retirements, including two 1960s-era coal-fired units (Crystal River 1 and 2). The plant will also comply with strict environmental regulations, use clean-burning, highly-efficient technology and benefit the local economy and tax base.

“The construction work is projected to have an area economic benefit of more than $600 million,” said Glenn. “During the height of construction, the project will create 600 to 700 temporary construction jobs. The project will benefit more than a dozen companies across the U.S. and around the world.”

For example, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems is manufacturing the combustion turbine generators in Japan and Savannah, Ga. Mitsubishi Hitachi also has significant operations in Lake Mary, Fla.

“We will use local suppliers when possible,” added Glenn. “The backfill material for the foundation, dump trucks hauling the material and fencing are all from local suppliers. A local concrete supplier will also provide 286,700 cubic yards of concrete for the project. That’s about 57 football fields filled waist-deep in concrete.”

In September 2015, the project received all regulatory approvals and permits to move forward, including site certification from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, a need determination from the Florida Public Service Commission, wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and various other permits and approvals. The project’s engineering, procurement and construction contractor, Fluor, started clearing the land in late 2015 and anticipates gradually hiring temporary workers in spring 2016.

The plant’s first 820 MW of capacity is expected to come on-line in spring 2018, and the second 820-MW phase is expected to come online by December 2018. The Citrus plant will be the second largest generator for Duke Energy Florida. The largest is the 1,912-MW Hines Energy Complex near Bartow.

Said Duke Energy’s Feb. 25 annual Form 10-K report about the two Crystal River units this new plant will help replace: “Duke Energy Florida has evaluated Crystal River 1 and 2 coal units for retirement in order to comply with certain environmental regulations. Based on this evaluation, those units will likely be retired by 2018.”

Based in Irving, Texas, Fluor is one of the largest publicly traded engineering, procurement and construction, maintenance and project management companies in the world with offices in Greenville, S.C., and Charlotte, N.C. Fluor has been a Duke Energy contractor for more than 40 years. In addition to the combined-cycle natural gas plant project in Citrus County, Fluor was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the new W.S. Lee combined-cycle natural gas plant in South Carolina. In the early 1980s, Fluor also constructed Crystal River’s coal-fired units 4 and 5, which are fully equipped for air emissions control and are due to stay open after the other two coal units are shut.

Duke Energy Florida owns coal-fired and natural gas generation providing about 9,000 MW of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.7 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.

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.