2008 Industry Outlook
New direction: The state is taking a clean and green approach to energy policy.
As some environmental groups gear up to fight FP&L’s plans for two new nuke units at Turkey Point, they cite the plants’ enormous water consumption. Like much of Florida, Miami-Dade County spent part of last year in a water-shortage emergency. Water supply also is a concern for proposed ethanol plants.
The Florida Public Service Commission this year decides whether to approve three nuclear plants. Progress Energy Florida wants to build a plant in Levy County on the west-central coast; Florida Power & Light Co. wants to build two nuclear units at its Turkey Point generating complex in southern Miami-Dade County. The energy companies want to make nuclear power a larger slice of Florida’s energy pie as the state tries to steer away from coal and curb overreliance on natural gas. FPL’s project would add between 2,200 and 3,000 megawatts of capacity; Progress Energy’s, 1,100.
Florida will become home to the largest single solar thermal plant in the world, part of a $2.4-billion investment by Florida Power & Light to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Juno Beach-based company hasn’t yet settled on a site for the 300-megawatt facility but hopes to break ground later this year. Other elements of the investment include $400 million for a nationwide education program and $500 billion to build a “smart grid” that will encourage consumers to conserve. Spokesman Mayco Villafana says the company will build the first 10 megawatts of the facility and, if it meets expectations, go forward with the remainder of the project over the next three years, with the full 300 megawatts online in 2011.
Also in solar, look for a bill this session that would create true net metering for Floridians who want to make their own solar energy. Homeowners with solar voltaic cells would be able to sell excess power back to their utility.
Bradley Krohn, president of U.S. EnviroFuels, the Tampa-based company that wants to build multiple fuel ethanol plants throughout Florida, says he hopes 2008 will be a turn-around year. U.S. EnviroFuels planned to build the state’s first ethanol plant at Port Sutton, but litigation over the site put the project on hold for more than a year. Krohn says the parties are making “significant progress” on the litigation and that he expects a resolution early this year. Only at that point will the company be able to close on financing for the project. Also this year, look for U.S. EnviroFuels to announce two new ethanol plant projects, both inland, both based on biomass-to-ethanol technology rather than corn.
Later this year, Gov. Charlie Crist’s administration expects to propose a law requiring Florida vehicles to use fuel containing 10% ethanol. The measure would still have to be approved by Florida lawmakers.