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NextEra Files for Pipeline Offshoot From Proposed Sabal Trail

Florida Southeast Connection LLC (FSC), a unit of NextEra Energy Inc. -- which is a partner with Spectra Energy Partners LLC in the Sabal Trail Transmission LLC project -- is proposing a 126-mile pipeline from Sabal Trail to serve Florida Power & Light Co.'s (FPL) Martin Clean Energy Center near Indiantown, FL.

FSC would connect with Sabal Trail near Intercession City, FL, and have capacity of 640,000 Dth/d.

"The purpose of the FSC Project is to (i) meet the natural gas fuel supply needs of FPL by May 2017 and other natural gas users in Florida; (ii) add a new natural gas transmission pipeline to enhance the reliability of the existing pipeline system serving Florida; and (iii) to create new pipeline infrastructure to allow for potential additional natural gas-fired electric generation sites, industrial users and gas local distribution companies to be directly served with minimal need for additional facilities," FSC told FERC [CP14-544].

The project would also allow local distribution companies to expand gas service to additional parts of Florida, FSC said in its application at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. "In conjunction with Sabal Trail, FSC will allow diversified access to growing natural gas supplies for natural gas users in Florida, increase the overall reliability of the region's natural gas transmission grid, reduce reliance on offshore supply sources and lessen the vulnerability to supply disruptions that can result from severe weather in the Gulf of Mexico...FSC will also benefit the state of Florida by providing increased competition for gas transportation needs, as well as delivering economic benefits to Florida."

FSC said that so far it has commitments for 94% of its capacity through a binding precedent agreement with FPL for 400,000 Dth/d beginning May 1, 2017, increasing to 600,000 Dth/d on May 1, 2020. "FSC has been in discussions with additional potential shippers and anticipates that it will be able to subscribe the remaining available capacity prior to, or shortly after, commencing service. FSC has a May 1, 2017 scheduled in-service date."

Sabal Trail, which would have an estimated price tag of $3 billion, would originate in Tallapoosa County, AL, extend through Georgia and terminate at the Central Florida Hub near Orlando (see Daily GPI, July 8, 2013). Through a capacity lease with Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line (Transco), natural gas supply will be accessed at Transco's Station 85 in Choctaw County, AL (see Daily GPI, July 29, 2013). Initial capacity is to be 800,000 Dth/d, increasing to about 1.1 million Dth/d by 2021.

FSC highlighted projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that show natural gas production and demand are experiencing robust growth. Much of the demand is to be from gas-fired power generators.

"The Florida Reliability Coordinating Council (FRCC) has reported that natural gas-fired electric generation has grown from less than 40% of total electric generation in 2007 to approximately 63% in 2013 and is expected to continue near this level for the next 10 years," FSC said. "In the upcoming decade, it is projected that there will be more than 8,000 megawatts of new gas-fired generation added in Florida by the three investor-owned electric utilities, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Co. and FPL.

“Yet unlike many other parts of the country where gas-fired generation is prevalent, e.g., Texas and California, Florida has no natural gas storage, almost no natural gas production, and the two existing pipelines that serve the majority of the state are at or nearing their full capacity."

The Martin Clean Energy Center is a hybrid solar-natural gas generation facility. To harness the sun's power, it uses more than 190,000 mirrors over 500 acres to produce steam to drive turbines. At night or when it's cloudy, natural gas-fueled generators step in. The facility opened in 2010.

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