JUNO BEACH — On Jan. 5, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the need for Florida Power & Light Company’s proposed FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center. The new high-efficiency power plant is scheduled to begin generating affordable clean energy by mid-2019 to help meet the electricity needs of Florida’s growing population and expanding economy.
FPL plans to invest approximately $1.3 billion to build the plant, which will be fueled by clean, U.S.-produced natural gas. There will be no impact on customer rates until after the plant enters service in 2019, at which time its costs will be partially offset by customer savings on fuel costs.
“The FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center represents another major milestone in our successful program of phasing out older power-generating units and investing in new, high-efficiency clean energy centers that reduce emissions and save our customers money on fuel costs,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “Not only is the FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center the most cost-effective option for meeting Florida’s future energy needs, it will also help us keep our customers’ bills low for the long term and further reduce emissions from our system, which is already among the cleanest and most affordable in the nation.”
Since 2001, FPL investments in natural gas power plants have prevented more than 95 million tons of carbon emissions and saved customers more than $8 billion in fuel costs. These investments are a key part of FPL’s efforts to keep its customer bills among the lowest in the state and nation.
FPL’s typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is approximately 30 percent lower than the national average. Also, FPL’s bill is lower in 2016 than it was 10 years ago thanks in part to major investments to reduce fuel consumption. In addition, FPL’s carbon emission rate is already cleaner today than the target set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Florida to achieve by 2030.
The FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center is part of the company’s ongoing strategy of modernizing its system – investing in fuel-efficient power generation that uses clean, U.S.-produced natural gas, zero-emissions nuclear or solar energy while phasing out older, less fuel-efficient plants that use coal and oil. FPL continues to make progress on long-term plans for new nuclear power and, by the end of 2016, expects to have completed three new large-scale solar energy centers in Florida.
The FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center will also produce significant economic benefits, including as many as 650 good-paying jobs during peak work periods over the nearly two-year plant construction project. Construction activities alone are expected to have an overall economic benefit to the region of more than $500 million. In addition, plant operations are projected to produce $238 million in new tax revenues for Okeechobee County, the school district and other taxing authorities during the 30-year operating life of the facility.
The proposed 1,633-megawatt plant continues to progress through comprehensive reviews by state, county, regional and federal regulatory agencies. If all required approvals and permits are secured, construction would begin in 2017 in order for the facility to begin powering FPL customers in June 2019.
The new plant is planned on a 250 acre site which is part of a 2,842 acre property that FPL owns in the northeast corner of Okeechobee County.