Two natural gas–fired projects received key approvals from state regulators this week. The Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved Florida Power & Light’s (FPL’s) proposed 1,277-MW gas unit for Broward County, Fla., and Louisiana’s Public Service Commission approved Entergy’s 550-MW gas project for Jefferson County, La.

Florida Regulators Find Need for Massive Gas Unit

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday approved FPL’s proposal to modernize Port Everglades Next Generation Energy Center in Broward County, Fla. The approval means FPL can dismantle four older units and begin construction of a 1,277-MW combined cycle natural gas unit for commercial operation in June 2016.

FPL’s requested “determination of need” had been contested by the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, which represents major commercial power users in utility cases. In documents filed with regulators, the group alleged the utility was trying to “inflate a small projected need into a mammoth project,” reported the Miami Herald.

The $1.2 billion project, which will begin in 2014, will include dismantling of four oil and natural gas–fired units that had been built in the 1960s. According to the PSC, the new facility would save FPL’s 4.5 million customers $469 million when compared to continued use of the existing units.

“Making sure Florida’s energy supply is dependable and cost effective protects consumers now and in the future,” said PSC Chairman Ronald A. Brisé. “This modernization will produce more efficient, cleaner energy, and the plant’s port location will maintain system reliability since backup fuel, if needed, can be delivered via water.”

Louisiana to Get New Gas-Fired Unit

Meanwhile, Entergy Louisiana said it was moving forward with plans to build a new 550-MW dual fuel combined cycle gas turbine generating unit at its existing Ninemile Point Station in Westwego, La., following recent approval by the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC).

The utility said it had given the Shaw Group full notice to proceed with the $721 million project to build Ninemile Unit 6. Ninemile 6 will replace Ninemile Units 1 and 2, which came online in the early 1950s and have been deactivated. Ninemile 6 will use portions of the site’s existing infrastructure, reducing overall construction costs. The unit is expected to begin commercial operation in the first part of 2015.

Entergy Louisiana will construct and own Ninemile Unit 6 and retain 55% of the capacity and energy output of the unit, while Entergy Gulf States Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans, Inc. will purchase 25% and 20%, respectively, of the capacity and energy of the unit via life-of-unit power purchase agreements.

The full notice to proceed with construction came after the LPSC’s March 21 approval of Entergy Louisiana’s and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana’s application seeking certification to construct the unit. The two Entergy subsidiaries filed the application with the commission in June 2011.

Sources: POWERnews, Miami Herald, FPSC, FPL, Entergy