The Florida Public Service Commission approved the need for Florida Power & Light Co.'s proposed FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center. The new high-efficiency power plant is scheduled to begin generating affordable clean energy by mid-2019 to help meet the electricity needs of Florida's growing population and expanding economy.
FPL plans to invest about $1.3 billion to build the plant, which will be fueled by U.S.-produced natural gas. There will be no impact on customer rates until after the plant enters service in 2019, at which time its costs will be partially offset by customer savings on fuel costs.
Since 2001, FPL investments in natural gas power plants have prevented more than 95 million tons of carbon emissions and saved customers more than $8 billion in fuel costs. These investments are a part of FPL's efforts to keep its customer bills among the lowest in the state and nation.
FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is about 30 percent lower than the national average. Also, FPL's bill is lower in 2016 than it was 10 years ago thanks in part to major investments to reduce fuel consumption. In addition, FPL's carbon emission rate is already cleaner today than the target set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Florida to achieve by 2030.
The FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center is part of the company's ongoing strategy of modernizing its system – investing in fuel-efficient power generation that uses clean, U.S.-produced natural gas, zero-emissions nuclear or solar energy while phasing out older, less fuel-efficient plants that use coal and oil. FPL continues to make progress on long-term plans for new nuclear power and, by the end of 2016, expects to have completed three new large-scale solar energy centers in Florida.
The FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center will also produce significant economic benefits, including as many as 650 good-paying jobs during peak work periods over the nearly two-year plant construction project. Construction activities alone are expected to have an overall economic benefit to the region of more than $500 million. In addition, plant operations are projected to produce $238 million in new tax revenues for Okeechobee County, the school district and other taxing authorities during the 30-year operating life of the facility.
The proposed 1,633 MW plant continues to progress through comprehensive reviews by state, county, regional and federal regulatory agencies. If all required approvals and permits are secured, construction would begin in 2017 for the facility to begin powering FPL customers in June 2019.