Florida Power & Light Company has announced that its state-of-the-art Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center has begun generating electricity from clean, U.S.-produced natural gas. Over its operational lifetime, the new, fuel-efficient plant is expected to provide FPL customers hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel and other savings over and above the cost of construction.
FPL invested approximately $900 million to build the facility, which was constructed on the site of a 1960s-era plant that the company took down in 2010. Construction was completed more than a month ahead of schedule and approximately $140 million under budget.
The plant is capable of producing more than 1,200 megawatts of electricity or enough to power approximately 250,000 homes and businesses – roughly double the amount generated by the previous plant – without using any additional water or land.
"It's fitting that this historic Cape Canaveral site, which emerged to power American innovation and leadership in the space race more than half a century ago, will now be using some of the most advanced generation technology available and U.S.-produced natural gas to help power the Space Coast's bright future," said FPL President Eric Silagy. "This plant uses 33 percent less fuel to generate electricity, which will help us keep our typical residential customer bills the lowest in Florida and significantly lower than the national average. It's an important achievement for our company and our state. Investments in affordable, reliable, clean electricity will help our state's economy continue to grow."
FPL's investments in state-of-the-art, combined-cycle, natural gas power plants since 2001 have cut the company's fuel costs by more than $6 billion through 2012, and 100 percent of those savings have been passed on to customers. By using natural gas to generate electricity, FPL has reduced its use of foreign oil by 98 percent – from more than 40 million barrels of oil in 2001 to now less than 1 million barrels annually.
In addition to saving on fuel costs, the latest technology further improves FPL's emissions profile – already among the cleanest in the United States. Compared to the former Cape Canaveral plant, the new facility generates power with half the rate of carbon dioxide emissions and more than 90 percent fewer air emissions. Moreover, the plant site's administration building features rooftop solar panels as part of its U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Also, FPL's investment in the new plant has important economic benefits locally. Construction of the plant employed more than 650 people at its peak, approximately three-quarters of which were filled by Floridians. It also supported numerous local businesses over the past three years, and during the plant's first full year of operation, it is expected to deliver $15 million in new tax revenue for local governments and school districts.
As part of the company's four-year rate agreement approved by the Florida Public Service Commission last year, the net increase on a typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill will be 16 cents a month, or about half a penny per day, as the cost of building the plant is offset in large part by the fuel savings from the plant's efficiency.
"At FPL, we're investing billions of dollars every year in our infrastructure – improving the efficiency of our power plants to keep fuel costs and emissions down, hardening our infrastructure so we can provide reliable service year-round and supporting the state's economic development, which benefits all Floridians," Silagy said.