New Gas-Fired Plants Planned in Florida, South Carolina

Florida regulators have given the green light to a pair of new natural gas-fired power plants that will add nearly 1,700 MW of generation capacity in the state, and a Florida-based energy project developer has announced a 1,000-MW gas-fired facility project in South Carolina.

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) on May 8 gave approval to two plants proposed by Tampa-based Seminole Electric Cooperative, which provides wholesale power to its nine member cooperatives in 42 of the state’s 67 counties. One plant is a 1,122-MW facility sited in Putnam County in north-central Florida. The second—which Seminole will develop with Shady Hills Energy Center LLC—would be a 573-MW gas-fired facility in Pasco County on the state’s Gulf Coast.

St. Augustine-based NTE Energy in a separate announcement Tuesday said it would invest more than $1 billion to develop the 1,000-MW Anderson County Energy Center in South Carolina, which NTE said “will feature some of the most efficient and environmentally-friendly technologies currently available.”

Natural gas has become the predominant fuel for power generation in Florida over the past few years, with a number of new plants coming online. Most recently, Duke Energy in April said it would commission both units of its new 1,640-MW Citrus gas-fired plant in Citrus County by the end of this year. Much of the state’s coal-fired generation has been retired; Florida Power & Light (FPL), the state’s largest utility, closed the St. Johns River Power Park in Jacksonville—FPL’s last coal-fired plant in the state—in January.

The Florida PSC in a statement Tuesday said the Putnam County plant is expected to begin service in December 2022, while the Pasco County plant is expected to come online in December 2021. Seminole will purchase all the power generated at the two plants, which will be built on sites currently owned by the cooperative. The Putnam County site also is home to the coal-fired Seminole Generating Station, which has two 650-MW units and entered commercial service in 1984. The Seminole plant was named a POWER Top Plant in 2009.

Seminole also operates the 810-MW gas-fired combined cycle Midulla Generating Station on the border of Polk and Hardee counties in central Florida. The Midulla facility has two natural gas-fired combustion turbines, two heat recovery steam generators, and one steam turbine. The site also includes a peaking plant with five aero-derivative combustion turbines that can produce 310 MW of power during periods of high demand. The peaking plant entered service in December 2006.

PSC Chairman Art Graham in a statement Tuesday said, “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. We also commend Seminole’s member utilities for using renewable resources and conservation programs to benefit customers.”

Seminole also operates the 2.2-MW Cooperative Solar plant adjacent to the Midulla plant. The solar facility was dedicated in December 2016.

NTE Energy in a news release said it expects permitting and development of the South Carolina plant will happen over the next two years. It said it expects the plant would enter commercial service in 2024.

“The addition of the Anderson County facility brings NTE’s generation portfolio to more than 2,000 MW representing some the newest, cleanest and most efficient power plants in the country. This substantial investment in the state of South Carolina will provide long-term benefits to all of our customers through stable, lower power rates and enhanced economic development,” said Mike Green, senior vice president of Carolinas Development for NTE.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine)