TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - State regulators next week could give an initial boost to a Florida Power & Light proposal to build an estimated $888 million power plant in Broward County as part of a series of FPL projects to add new natural gas plants.
Under a state rule, utilities are required to go through a process that involves seeking possible alternatives to proposed power plants. But FPL, which wants to build a plant that would replace two aging generating units in Dania Beach, asked the Florida Public Service Commission for an exemption from that process.
The Public Service Commission's staff last week recommended approval of the exemption, and the regulatory panel is scheduled to take up the issue during a meeting July 13. The staff recommendation pointed, in part, to FPL's proposal to use the existing power-plant site in Dania Beach. The exemption would be from a requirement that utilities issue what are known as "requests for proposals," or RFPs, to help ensure that new plants are the most cost-effective alternatives.
"A central component of FPL's argument for the exemption from the RFP requirement is that FPL's reuse of an existing plant site provides numerous economic and qualitative benefits that would be unmatched by any potential RFP respondent," the staff recommendation said. "The Lauderdale (Dania Beach) site currently features access to transmission, natural gas pipelines and water supply facilities near a major load pocket that can be utilized by the new generating unit."
If the commission approves the staff recommendation, FPL still will need other regulatory approvals before moving ahead with the proposed 1,163-megawatt plant, which could begin operating in 2022.
But the exemption could help speed the regulatory process for FPL, which said in a May filing that it wants to shut down two aging generating units at the Dania Beach site in late 2018. FPL said in the filing that it plans to begin seeking a critical approval, known as a "determination of need," for the new plant as soon as this fall.
"Granting the exemption from the RFP process for the proposed project will facilitate timely dismantlement of the existing facility and construction of a highly efficient, reliable source of generating capacity at a critical location on FPL's system," the May filing said. "It will serve the public welfare by allowing FPL to proceed more expeditiously with the project, which will achieve cleaner, more efficient power generation than the existing plant, a reduction in FPL's total air emissions and increased efficiency with which FPL utilizes natural gas as a fuel for generation on a system-wide basis, and the creation of new jobs and tax revenue for Florida's economy."
As of Wednesday morning, the exemption request did not appear to have drawn any formal opposition, according to the Public Service Commission docket.
The new Dania Beach plant, if ultimately approved, would be part of a series of projects FPL has undertaken in recent years to build natural-gas plants and shut down older facilities. That has included projects at Cape Canaveral, Riviera Beach, Port Everglades and in Okeechobee County.
The News Service of Florida's Jim Saunders contributed to this report.
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