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Panda is the Latest Player in FL Generation Market

March 13, 2000
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Panda is the Latest Player in FL Generation Market

Panda Energy Intl. Inc. paved the way for its entrance into the Florida generation market last week by announcing that petitions for determination of need have been filed with the Florida Public Service Commission to build two 1,000 MW power plants. Both plants will cost $300 million and are expected to begin commercial operation in May of 2003.

The company said it made the filings on behalf of two affiliate companies -- Panda Leesburg Power Partners, LP, and Panda Midway Power Partners, LP. The Leesburg facility will be located in Lake County, west of the city of Leesburg. Panda Midway will be northwest of the town of Port St. Lucie in St. Lucie County.

Panda said the facilities would employ high efficiency gas turbines that use two-thirds less water and one-third less fuel than traditional sources of generation. They will each burn 170 MMcf/d, said Peggy Striegel, a Panda spokesperson.

The new plants would be welcome additions to a rapidly growing state in need of additional power, according to Panda. The Dallas, TX-based company pointed to a 1999, 10-year site plan prepared by the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council which showed that Florida will need an additional 8,000 MW of electric power generation capacity by 2008.

Studies such as the one performed by the Coordinating Council have triggered a long list of power plants to be proposed. Just last week, Reliant Energy announced its plans to build a power facility in the state. Duke Energy and Coastal Corp. have become active in exploring ways to exploit the expected boom in the generation market. None of the proposed unregulated merchant facilities have been built yet, however.

Along with the generation activity, gas pipeline projects are also being considered. Coastal's Gulfstream project, a Duke Energy and Williams joint venture called the Buccaneer Pipeline and several Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) expansions are all at various levels in the approval process at FERC.

Many of the generation facility projects, such as the Reliant Energy plant and Panda's Leesburg plant, have yet to select a gas supplier, as they wait to see which pipeline will be selected to compete with FGT's existing system. The Panda Midway facility, however, has already contracted with Coastal's Gulfstream.

If approved, these two plants would mark Panda's foray into Florida. The privately held company has 10 GW of power under development across the United States. Construction is under way on three 1,000 MW facilities in Marion, Paris and Odessa, TX. The company also operates plants in Roanoke Rapids, NC, and Brandywine, MD.

John Norris

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