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Florida Embracing Buccaneer Pipeline Project --- So Far

Florida Embracing Buccaneer Pipeline Project --- So Far

While Pennsylvania and New Jersey would like nothing more than to give Williams' proposed MarketLink expansion the boot, Florida is opening its arms to the company's Buccaneer Natural Gas Pipeline project.

In a letter to FERC, the Central Florida Development Council (CFDC) --- a public/private partnership between the Polk County Board of County Commissioners and 14 Chambers of Commerce --- called on FERC to give the Buccaneer project the green light, saying it was needed to meet the state's energy needs, reduce its reliance on a single gas pipeline, and would provide untold economic and environmental benefits [CP00-14]. A copy of the letter was sent to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

"We urge your support of the construction of additional natural gas transmission pipelines to Florida and our area to foster economic competition and eliminate the current reliance on a single provider," the council said. "We also urge that the federal, state and local agencies work cooperatively with The Williams Cos. to assure that their proposed pipeline project is approved and constructed in a manner that meets" environmental and community objectives.

Williams has proposed a route for Buccaneer "that, for the most part, circles the state's metropolitan areas on tracts of land that are currently undeveloped to minimize conflicts with existing development," the CFDC told the Commission. As a result, "new development will be able to plan for the pipeline as part of the natural expansion of the urban area," it said.

"The route proposed by The Williams Cos. and their approach to citizen and landowner involvement in the planning process is an excellent beginning to the provision of much-needed infrastructure to meet our state's energy needs well into the next century."

From an economic standpoint, affected landowners "will be compensated for the use of their property," and the Buccaneer project will pay an estimated $3.8 million in tangible property taxes each year to Polk County, which is located between Tampa and Orlando. "These economic benefits will be augmented by the $1.3 billion construction cost, much of which will be spent in Florida," the council said.

In addition, the CFDC touted the benefits that "the use of natural gas in the generation of electricity can provide to air quality and costs of electricity" in the Sunshine State.

The Buccaneer project would serve Polk County, which will be the "site of thousands of new megawatts of electricity coming on line via expansions at Tampa Electric Co.'s Polk Power Station, Florida Power's Andrew Hines Energy Complex, the City of Lakeland's MacIntosh Power Plant and some of our new cogeneration facilities," the CFDC noted.

"Also, we are working with six proposed merchant plant opportunities, most in the 750 to 800 MW range. We feel confident at least two of these proposed plants will be added to our growing inventory of electric power generators. It is anticipated all of these expansions/new plants will use natural gas to fuel their turbines."

Susan Parker

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