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Duke Energy Florida Planning New Gas-Fired Generation

Duke Energy Florida is planning construction of a 1,640 MW combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County and two simple-cycle combustion turbine generators at its Suwannee Plant at Live Oak, FL.

The Crystal River, FL-based Duke Energy subsidiary also announced a retirement timeline for two coal-fired units at its Crystal River Energy Complex, and is planning equipment upgrades at its Hines Energy Complex near Bartow, FL.

After a months-long request for proposals process (see Daily GPI, Sept. 27, 2013; Feb. 8, 2013), Duke Energy Florida selected its self-build option to construct the $1.5 billion Citrus County plant on 400 acres adjacent to the existing Crystal River Energy Complex. Construction and related activities are expected to add several million dollars to the local tax base.

The plant would receive gas through a new pipeline to be built and operated by Sabal Trail Transmission, a joint venture of Spectra and NextEra Energy Inc. (see Daily GPI, July 29, 2013). The 465-mile pipeline will originate in Tallapoosa County, AL, extend through Georgia and terminate at the Central Florida Hub near Orlando (see Daily GPI, July 8, 2013). It is expected to be in operation beginning in May 2017.

During the height of construction of the Crystal River plant, 600-700 jobs are expected to be created. Assuming regulatory approval, construction is expected to begin in early 2016, with the first 820 MW coming online in spring 2018 and another 820 MW expected to be available by December 2018.

"Our proposal is the most cost-effective option for customers that provides systemwide reliability, ensures regulatory compliance and meets our needed 2018 in-service construction timeline," said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy state president for Florida.

Duke Energy Florida intends to retire Crystal River coal-fired units 1 and 2 "due to changing federal environmental regulations." The retirements will take place when the Citrus County combined-cycle plant becomes operational.

The company also said it plans to build two simple-cycle combustion turbine generators on 68 acres at the Suwannee Plant at a cost of about $197 million. The 320 MW of generation will accommodate peak electricity demand beginning in 2016. The three steam plants at the site, which were built in the 1950s, are slated to be retired when the combustion turbine generators become operational.

And energy efficiency and power output at the Hines Energy Complex in Polk County will be increased when Duke Energy Florida installs inlet air chilling units on four combined-cycle power blocks in 2017, the company said.  The upgrades will add about 220 MW to the plant's existing 1,912 MW of generation. The anticipated cost to install the chillers is approximately $160 million, including financing costs.

Duke Energy Florida on Tuesday provided the PSC an update on the projects and plans to formally submit the plans for approval May 27. A PSC ruling is expected later this year.

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