The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) last Thursday granted Florida Power and Light's (FP&L) request to construct two new 1,200 MW natural gas-fired generating units on a 220-acre site in western Palm Beach County. But the PSC gave the project a green light only after the utility agreed to new conservation and fuel diversity programs.
The utility earlier this year said that its West County Energy Center proposal is the best and most cost-effective option to provide additional electricity for FP&L customers beginning in 2009. FP&L has said it will be able to build natural gas-fired units more quickly than other technologies.
In approving FP&L's request, the five-member state commission directed FP&L to diversify its fuel sources by accelerating construction of coal-fired facilities, increase demand-side management and conservation programs and expand the pricing options for renewable energy producers.
The first generating unit at the West Palm Beach County site is expected to be completed by 2009 and the second unit by 2010. The cost of the total project is nearly $1.2 billion.
In February, the utility noted that along with PSC approval, the project will require a number of environmental permitting approvals.
Rachel Scott, an FP&L spokesperson, on Thursday noted that a proceeding related to the West County Energy Center proposal is "still in process" at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). An administrative law judge will hold a public hearing on behalf of the DEP.
The project will also require a review before the governor and the Florida Cabinet Siting Board.
The population in Palm Beach County has increased 30% in the last decade and the number of customer accounts has grown from under 487,000 in 1990 to more than 675,000 in 2005, FP&L has noted. Since 2000, FP&L is adding about 15,000 new customer accounts in Palm Beach County each year. In neighboring Martin and St. Lucie counties, the number of customers has increased by 21% since 2000.
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