Infrastructure: Growing Stronger and Greener
Florida’s balanced approach meets today’s energy demands with an eye on tomorrow’s needs.
A diversity of fuels and energy sources is meeting Florida’s needs:
Florida’s new energy bill directs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish minimum standards for the amount of electric energy that must be derived from renewable sources. In addition, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection must develop a “cap-and-trade” program by 2010 whereby credits would be issued to companies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and penalties to those that do not. Power plants and other businesses that reduce pollution would be able to sell their credits to companies that exceed the mandated cap on carbon dioxide emissions.
In July 2008, Progress Energy received unanimous approval from Florida’s Public Service Commission to build a $17-billion nuclear energy facility in Levy County. Projected to come on line beginning in 2016, the plant will eventually generate 2,200 megawatts of power — enough to supply 1.3 million average households. Approvals from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission are still needed before construction can begin.
Florida Power & Light (FP&L), Florida’s largest investor-owned utility, operates two nuclear power plants in Florida — on Hutchinson Island near Fort Pierce and at Turkey Point on Biscayne Bay south of Miami; in March, the PSC approved two new nuclear plants at Turkey Point.
"Developing an intrastate natural gas pipeline is “a logical extension of the business we already do."
About 39% of Florida’s electric generating capacity comes from natural gas. But that figure could rise to 50% by 2013, according to a 2007 Florida Energy Commission report. Worries over greenhouse emissions “have basically taken coal off the table as a fuel for new power plants in Florida,” says David Rogers, executive director of the Florida Natural Gas Association, “but they have taken natural gas up the ladder.”
Rogers expects that increased quantities of Gulf Coast gas will be available to Florida as new Western natural gas suppliers move to the Northeast and Midwest. Supplies of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) are increasing, too; as many as 10 LNG projects are currently under way in Florida and other Gulf Coast states.
Peoples Gas, Florida’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serves 330,000 customers and will soon serve more. In June 2008, its parent company, TECO Energy, formed a new subsidiary to develop an intrastate natural gas pipeline. SeaCoast Gas Transmission will supply natural gas to a new power plant planned for northeast Florida. As more gas-fired power plants are built, the pipeline could be expanded to serve other Florida regions.
Ethanol — Fueling Florida's Future
The new comprehensive energy bill signed into law by Gov. Crist in June 2008 requires that by December 31, 2010, all gasoline sold in Florida must contain 10% ethanol. It’s no wonder then that as many as five separate companies are planning to build plants in locations across the state to produce ethanol from a variety of sources, including wood fiber, sugar cane residue, various grasses, citrus waste and other materials.
Meanwhile, Texas-based Kinder Morgan, a major pipeline transporter and terminal operator, is retooling its 16-inch pipeline that carries gasoline from the Port of Tampa to Orlando. By May 2009, a new fuel — ethanol — will be flowing through that pipe.
New ethanol storage units are under construction, too. One example is the new $90-million ethanol storage facility that Jacksonville-based Gate Petroleum is building near the St. Johns River.