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FPL Adds Generation to Fort Myers Project

FPL Adds Generation to Fort Myers Project

Florida Power & Light Co. said last week that in order to more reliably serve its customers, it plans to add two 170 MW, natural gas-fired peaking units to its Fort Myers capacity expansion program. An FPL spokesperson said there are no estimates for the cost of the facilities or how much gas they will consume.

Permitting for the peaking units would begin this summer, with construction expected to begin in April 2002. The two units would be available for commercial operation in April and May of 2003, respectively. Overall, the company's current power generation system is 18,700 MW, which includes power plants and purchased capacity.

"Adding to an existing site like Fort Myers is a very economical and environmentally friendly approach. It especially makes sense as we already are in the process of repowering the older, larger generating units at the site with new technology that will use natural gas instead of oil," said FPL President Paul Evanson.

FPL's Fort Myers repowering project involves increasing the capacity of the plant from a 540 MW, oil-fired facility to a 1,400 MW natural gas-fired generation plant capable of meeting the electricity needs of more than 300,000 homes and businesses. Site construction began in July 1999 and the repowered facility is scheduled to be in-service in mid 2002.

The project is of significant interest to Florida Gas Transmission (FGT). FPL and FGT forged a partnership in 1998 allowing the pipeline company to serve the growing power needs of the power company. Much of FGT's planned pipeline expansion is dedicated to supplying the repowered Fort Myers plant. Plans specifically call for the pipeline to extend its 30-inch West Leg by about 114 miles from Hillsborough County, FL, to the Fort Myers' generating station, which would receive up to 160,000 MMBtu/d of capacity. Overall, the $350 million expansion would add 272,000 MMBtu/d.

FPL is not the only company building generation in Florida. Multiple power projects are being filed with the state due to the forecasts of major electric demand. The state will require more than 10,000 MW of new power generating capacity by 2007, according to the Florida Public Service Commission's "Review of Electric Utility 1998 10-Year Site Plans." If fueled entirely by gas, this would require an additional 1.5 Bcf/d of capacity.

The new peaking units at Fort Myers will address in part a Florida Public Service Commission decision last year that Florida's investor-owned utilities should establish a 20% reserve margin. As part of the same plan to boost reserves, FPL announced this past December the addition of two identical 170 MW peaking units at its Martin plant site on Florida's East Coast.

Yet despite this demand, building massive power plants in Florida is proving to be a tricky process. Opposition to the new plants, in the form of IOUs and landowners, has taken the one potential generation builder, Duke Energy Power Services, to the state supreme court saying the PSC does not have the authority to certificate its planned merchant power plant in New Smyrna Beach, FL. The court heard oral arguments on the case in early February and should be issuing a decision soon.

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