- Florida Power & Light on Friday filed a petition to develop a new 1,163 MW gas-fired unit on the site of its existing Lauderdale facility for $888 million. According to the utility, the gas plant would be almost $1.3 billion cheaper than developing the same amount of solar energy.
- Palm Beach Post notes that FPL has built several new gas-fired plants in recent years, each costing about $1 billion. The new Dania Beach Clean Energy Center Unit 7 would be slightly cheaper — around $900 million — because it would utilize existing gas pipelines and transmission lines.
- FPL gets about 70% of its energy from gas-fired plants, but says it is growing solar generation. Last week the utility also announced it had reached the halfway point in an effort to add 2.5 million solar panels by 2018.
FPL officials say retiring and replacing the Lauderdale facility would save customers in excess of $300 million. Over the summer, regulators allowed FPL to skip a request for proposals that would have determined if a larger gas plant was the most cost-effective solution.
According to the utility, constructing Dania Beach Unit 7 would be about $1.3 billion cheaper than constructing an equivalent amount of solar generation.
The proposed new gas unit will likely to draw criticism from clean energy advocates. FPL says it is working to add solar generation to its mix, but the process is a slow one: By 2023, the Post reports FPL expects to reach 4% solar.
While FPL's commitment to clean energy has been questioned in the past, the utility is currently working through an ambitious rollout of solar panels. This year, the utility has added more than 1.25 million panels at eight new plants, and by 2023, plans to have installed a total of more than 10 million solar panels.
"We're investing nearly $1 billion to grow solar in Florida this year alone, and we're building each of these new solar power plants cost-effectively," FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy said in a statement.
Florida Power & Light is owned by NextEra Energy, which last year made a bid to purchase Hawaiian Electric Co. But regulators nixed the deal over doubts the company could pull off clean energy goals that include an eventual transition to all carbon-free energy. FPL says the Dania Beach Clean Energy Center is "needed to replace our existing power plant, which was last updated nearly a quarter-century ago and uses technology that dates as far back as the 1950s."