- The Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved a pair of new gas-fired power plants needed to serve the future power demand of electric cooperative customers. Regulators say the combined projects will save customers $363 million compared to the next least cost portfolio.
- Seminole Electric Cooperative will construct a new 1.1 GW plant in Putnam County, expected in service in 2022. Shady Hills Energy Center will build a new 573 MW natural gas facility in Pasco County; the plant is expected in service in late 2021, with Seminole purchasing all of the plant's output.
- Despite working to increase its renewable energy supply, Florida remains committed to natural gas. Duke Energy is nearing completion of a 1.6 GW plant in Citrus County, and Florida Power & Light (FPL) is closing in on approval of a 1.2 GW plant in Dania Beach.
Despite its nickname, Florida is not a leader in solar energy. In 2016, the Sunshine State got about two-thirds of its electricity from gas-fired plants, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The industry has been working to address that the largest utility in the state, FPL, has plans to roll out energy storage alongside renewables to boost the amount of green power on the grid.
But for now, the state is reliant on natural gas, and more plants are on the way.
“Seminole demonstrated that additional power generation will be needed to ensure reliable service, and the plan approved today to fill that need is the most cost effective alternative for customers,” PSC Chairman Art Graham said in a statement.
Both of the new gas plants will be constructed on current sites, "allowing the utility to save money by using existing transmission and water resource infrastructure," the PSC noted. Regulators “also commend Seminole’s member utilities for using renewable resources and conservation programs to benefit customers,” Graham said.
Seminole provides wholesale power to its nine member distribution electric cooperatives in Florida and serves 1.7 million customers.
Regulators did take steps last month to grow the solar market. The PSC issued a declaratory statement allowing residential solar leases in the state, after determining that a 20-year draft agreement did not represent a retail sale of electricity. Regulators gave assurances that a draft lease submitted by Sunrun would not cause it to run afoul of the commission's rules, clearing the way for the company to begin accepting orders in the near future.