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Calpine Gets Contract for Florida Plant

Calpine Gets Contract for Florida Plant

Florida's onerous restrictions on new power plant construction aren't holding back Calpine Corp. The company announced it has signed a contract to supply power from a new 540 MW combined cycle plant to Tampa-based Seminole Electric Cooperative.

The Osprey Energy Center would be built alongside Calpine's existing Auburndale, FL 150 MW cogeneration plant. The contract to supply power to the 10-member cooperative will support Calpine's Petition for Determination of Need, currently pending before the Florida Public Service Commission. "We are hoping it will satisfy the Commission's criteria" for all power generated in the state to be dedicated to serving utilities and customers in the state. It is the same criteria which effectively blocked Duke Energy's plans for a 514 MW plant near New Smyrna Beach (see NGI, Oct. 9).

While the contract grants the Seminole cooperative access to all the power generated at the new plant, Seminole is not required to take it all. The cooperative currently operates a 1,250 MW coal-fired power plant, has a 14 MW share in a nuclear plant and is building another 500 MW combined cycle plant. Seminole also buys power from other IPPs and sells into the market. The cooperative members serve 680,000 retail customers in Florida.

A Seminole spokesman said the contract is designed to cover expanded power needs expected to develop over the next several years. The Calpine plant is targeted for completion in June, 2003.

Calpine's John Flumerfelt said the company is pursuing the same strategy of finding a Florida purchaser for the output of an additional project currently in the works, the Blue Heron Energy Center, which would supply 1,080 MW. "We hope to have a petition of need approved by the end of this year. If we are not successful, we will just have to wait for the legislature."

Flumerfelt said Calpine is optimistic a new legislature may relax the rules on new generation facilities. "There could be as much as a 60% swing in the state legislature" in the upcoming election, Flumerfelt said. "There could be a lot of new faces. We think this is a good thing."

Meanwhile, a governor's commission set to investigate the Florida energy situation is headed toward issuing an interim report early in the winter, which may separate out the issue of a competitive bulk power market from retail issues and set it on a faster track. The legislature could debate that issue as early as March, Flumerfelt said.

Ellen Beswick

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