NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) utility Florida Power & Light (FPL) has started commercial operation of its Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center, which is the third in a series of new natural gas power plants developed by FPL.
The new combined-cycle natural gas plant is capable of generating 1,277 MW or enough power for more than a quarter million residential customers, FPL said.
Construction was completed two months ahead of schedule, allowing the plant to officially enter commercial operation on April 1, FPL said in a news release. FPL invested approximately $1.2bn to build the new energy center on the same site in Broward County where a 1960s-era oil-burning plant was dismantled three years ago.
As was the case with the company’s Next Generation Clean Energy Centers at Riviera Beach and Cape Canaveral, the Port Everglades facility replaces a 1960s-era, oil-fired power plant that was demolished in mid-2013. FPL said.
The new Port Everglades energy center, running on 35% less fuel per megawatt-hour (MWh), is estimated to save FPL’s customers $400m during the 30-year life of the facility, FPL said.
At the peak of construction, more than 900 people were employed, the majority of whom were Floridians, the utility said.
FPL filed a request with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) in February to reduce customer rates beginning April 1, 2016, in tandem with the commissioning of the new FPL Port Everglades power plant.
As a result of FPL’s investments in clean energy technology, the company is already positioned to meet the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan targets by 2030 today, the utility said.
Compared to the former plant, the new energy center reduces air emissions by more than 90% and cuts the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rate in half, which is the equivalent of removing 46,000 cars from the highway each year, FPL said.
The Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center is part of FPL’s ongoing effort to modernize its power generation fleet. These investments, include:
•Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center: In April 2013, FPL commissioned the new energy center, which replaced the 1960s-era power plant on the Space Coast.
•Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center: The company dismantled the Riviera Beach Plant in June 2011. It was replaced by FPL’s Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center, which entered service in April 2014. Earlier this year, the company opened on the center’s property Manatee Lagoon – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center, a free environmental educational center and observation area to view manatees.
In addition, FPL is also pursuing plans for another new natural gas power generation facility, the Okeechobee Clean Energy Center, to be located in Okeechobee County.
“The Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center is yet another demonstration of our commitment to dramatically reducing our dependence on foreign oil, while at the same time, delivering clean, reliable and affordable energy for our customers,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “This facility is the equivalent of taking a car from the 1960s and replacing it with a hybrid, which is more fuel efficient and produces less emissions.”