By Ivan Penn
c.2012 Tampa Bay Times@
Duke Energy Florida plans to make its formal request to state regulators on May 27 to build a $1.5 billion natural gas plant in Crystal River that will help replace plants the utility has already closed or soon will retire.
Duke wants to build the 1,640 megawatt plant on a 400-acre tract near the Crystal River power complex off U.S. 19. Construction would begin in 2016 with half of the facility’s power coming online in spring 2018 and the remainder about six months later.
The project is expected to generate 600 to 700 jobs at the peak of construction.
In addition to the Crystal River plant, Duke plans to build two simple-cycle combustion turbine generators for $197 million on a 68-acre tract at its Suwannee Plant near Live Oak in North Florida. The units will help meet peak energy demand.
“We are making these investments to continue providing our customers with the most cost-effective energy solutions and highest level of reliability with limited environmental impact,” said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy’s state president for Florida. “We are committed to ensuring our customers’ energy needs are met 24 hours a day, seven days a week now and in the future.”
The new plants will replace three units at the Crystal River power complex, including the shuttered nuclear plant and two coal units that are among the dirtiest power sources in the country. When the new Suwannee plants come on line, Duke also plans to retire three steam plants in 2016 that were built in the 1950s.
The state Public Service Commission must approve the projects for the utility to recover costs of the facility from its customers.
Duke Energy said it will help employees through the plant retirements and redeploy as many as possible to other positions within the company.Florida - Duke Energy Corporation - Crystal River