On March 2, 2016, Duke Energy will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the new 1,640 MW combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County that will help serve Florida's 1.7 million customers starting in 2018.
"Building highly efficient natural gas plants is part of Duke Energy's balanced approach to meeting future demand for reliable and increasingly clean electricity," said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy Florida's state president. "Since 2008, we have reduced our air emissions by nearly 80 percent and our carbon footprint by 15 percent. This state-of-the-art, highly-efficient plant will help us further reduce carbon emissions."
The combined-cycle natural gas plant is among the largest under construction in the industry and one of the most important projects for Duke Energy. It will replace generation from plant retirements, including two 1960s-era coal-fired plants. The plant will also comply with strict environmental regulations, use clean-burning, highly-efficient technology and benefit the local economy and tax base.
"The construction work is projected to have an area economic benefit of more than $600 million," said Glenn. "During the height of construction, the project will create 600 to 700 temporary construction jobs. The project will benefit more than a dozen companies across the U.S. and around the world."
For example, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems is manufacturing the combustion turbine generators in Japan and Savannah, Ga. Mitsubishi Hitachi also has significant operations in Lake Mary, Fla.
"We will use local suppliers when possible," added Glenn. "Duke Energy has been a vital part of the Citrus County community for 50 years. The backfill material for the foundation, dump trucks hauling the material and fencing are all from local suppliers. A local concrete supplier will also provide 286,700 cubic yards of concrete for the project. That's about 57 football fields filled waist-deep in concrete."
In September 2015, the project received all regulatory approvals and permits to move forward, including site certification from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, need determination from the Florida Public Service Commission, wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and various other permits and approvals. The project's engineering, procurement and construction contractor, Fluor, started clearing the land in late 2015 and anticipates gradually hiring temporary workers in spring 2016.
The plant's first 820 megawatts are expected to come online in spring 2018, and the second 820 megawatts are expected to come online by December 2018. One megawatt powers about a thousand homes. The Citrus plant will be the second largest generator for Duke Energy Florida. The largest is the 1,912 megawatt Hines Energy Complex near Bartow.