Seminole Electric proposes $727M natural gas plant
State regulators will hear arguments in March on proposals for two new natural gas power plants in Putnam and Pasco counties that would supply electricity to customers of electric cooperatives throughout Florida.
Filings last week with the state Public Service Commission show a two-pronged strategy by Tampa-based Seminole Electric Cooperative, Inc., to help meet future power needs. Part of that strategy calls for building a $727 million plant; the cost of the other, smaller facility has not been disclosed.
“Based on its continuing evaluation of its member cooperatives’ electricity needs,” Seminole said in the filing, “Seminole projects a need for 901 megawatts of additional generating capacity by the end of 2021.”
Seminole is a nonprofit utility that provides wholesale power to cooperatives throughout the state to 1.6 million customers in Florida. Its members include the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, Inc., which had about 223,000 accounts in 2016, including in Pasco and Hernando counties.
In a filing with Shady Hills Energy Center, the utility said it wants to build two combined cycle gas plants: a 1,050-megawatt plant at its already-existing site in Putnam County and contract for electricity generated at a 573-megawatt plant in Pasco County that would be owned by a subsidiary of General Electric Co. About 800 average-sized homes can be powered by a single megawatt.
“The combined cycle generation technology is one of the most efficient power production technologies available today,” the utilities said in their filing.
Seminole Electric also has a proposal pending in the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings as it seeks a separate regulatory approval for the Putnam County project under a state power-plant siting law. Both new plants would be fueled with natural gas, and the strategy also includes shutting down a smaller coal-fired plant at the Putnam site north of Palatka.
The Putnam County project would rival that of Duke Energy Florida’s Crystal River plant in terms of energy output. Duke is in the process of building a combined cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County, like that proposed by Seminole. When it is fully operational at the end of 2018, it will produce 1,640 megawatts on average.
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It would be slightly cheaper, however, than the $1.5 billion Duke Energy project. Seminole estimates that the combined cycle plant would cost $727 million. Customers would likely see this in an uptick on their monthly bill. The monthly rates for customers differ depending on their provider in the cooperative.