Fpl builds plant that will actually work gas stoichiometry examples


COCOA — The hulking hunk of steel that towers over U.S. 1, across the Indian River from the Kennedy Space Center, stands as a monument to one utility’s success — and another’s failure. Come June 1, Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest power company, plans to flip the switch on the state’s newest natural gas plant. The 1,250-megawatt power generator took just over two years to build and will cost FPL customers $970 million. That’s about $130 million under budget. Duke Energy customers could only wish to be so lucky.

For the $3.1 billion Duke wasted on the now-shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant and the proposed Levy County nuclear plant that may never get built, the utility could have constructed three natural gas plants with more power than both of the reactor projects combined. And Duke would still have had almost $200 million left over to buy fuel for the gas units.

"The lack of regulatory oversight, the lack of legislative oversight and the lack of planning are costing the state dearly," said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which has been battling against fees charged to utility customers in advance for new nuclear plants.

So in 2006, the Legislature passed a law that allows utilities to charge in advance for new nuclear projects. The law has raised money that went toward increasing production capacity at existing FPL nuclear reactors; the same law forced Duke customers to pay billions — for nothing.

Some Tampa Bay area state senators want the utilities to either move forward with construction of new nuclear power plants or stop collecting customer money for plants they will never build. The senators plan to introduce a bill this week to hold the utilities accountable for use of the advance fee.

Even so, Adam Putnam, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the state’s point person on energy matters, and other state leaders remain committed to the idea that investment in nuclear is key for Florida’s energy future.

Yet utilities nationwide increasingly are announcing decisions to trim their nuclear ambitions, including last week’s decision by Dominion Power to close its Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin this spring because it was no longer economically viable.

Meanwhile, the natural gas plant FPL is set to open in Cocoa, which has a population of 17,000, is the first of three new 1,250-megawatt gas generators the utility will fire up over the next three years. A plant in Riviera Beach opens next year, and a third one in Port Everglades opens in 2016.

The Cocoa project will bring Brevard County $12 million a year in additional tax revenue, $3 million more than the Crystal River nuclear plant was bringing Citrus County. The loss of the nuclear plant is prompting deep cuts in county and education budgets in Citrus, while Brevard is on the cusp of a boom.

If Duke built just one natural gas plant with the $3.1 billion it spent on the Crystal River and Levy nuclear projects, it would have enough money left over to fuel that plant for eight years at today’s prices, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

"Conditions can change in unexpected ways, and a diversity of power sources is vital to ensuring reliable service," said Duke spokesman Sterling Ivey. "This is particularly important in Florida, which, due to our geography, has to be more self-sufficient than most other states. Nuclear power remains a key component of Progress Energy’s strategy to meet its customers’ future energy needs with efficient, carbon-free electricity."

"It’s very clear to us, there’s no justification for pursuing these high-risk and problematic nuclear facilities, given you have a low-cost option available," said Smith, the executive director of the environmental group Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.