With a rumble and a series of controlled explosions over approximately 60 seconds, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) Tuesday demolished its 1960s-era Port Everglades Power Plant in Hollywood, Fla., to make way for a new, clean energy center powered by American natural gas. The demolition of four 350-foot, candy-cane-striped stacks and four 7,500-ton boilers – a staple of South Florida's skyline for more than 50 years – occurred shortly after sunrise, launching a new era for FPL customers and South Florida.
The Port Everglades demolition is the largest in Florida's history and the company's third in three years. These demolitions are the first step in replacing older, less efficient power plants with new, more efficient facilities that will help contribute to our country's energy independence.
"All of this is helping us reduce our dependence on foreign oil – a 98 percent reduction since 2001 – while saving our customers' money by using more affordable American natural gas sources," said FPL President Eric Silagy. "We're always looking for ways to keep the cost of electricity low for families and businesses while doing what's right for Florida's energy future. Today's boom may have lasted about a minute, but it will be a long-term boom for our state, our economy, our environment and America's push for energy independence."
Improving efficiency to keep customers' bills low
Construction of FPL's Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center will begin in the first quarter of 2014 at the same location of the now-demolished power plant. The new, cleaner and more efficient power plant will begin serving customers in June 2016.
The high-efficiency facility will generate enough electricity to power about 260,000 homes and businesses using 35 percent less fuel than the original plant. This improved fuel efficiency will result in the savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel costs – all of which will be passed along to FPL customers, dollar for dollar. Investments in more efficient power plants are one reason FPL's typical residential customer bill is significantly lower than the national average and the lowest of all 55 electric utilities in Florida as of year-end 2012.
Enhancing the environment
By leveraging state-of-the-art technology, the new energy center will cut the carbon dioxide emissions rate in half and reduce overall air emissions by more than 90 percent. This is the equivalent of removing 46,000 cars from I-95 per year. With these improvements, FPL's environmental profile – already among the best in the United States – will be even more improved.
Increasing energy independence
Building efficient power plants that utilize domestic energy sources such as natural gas also is helping FPL reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Since 2001, the company has dramatically slashed its use of foreign oil from more than 40 million barrels to less than 1 million barrels in 2012.
Rebuilding the Port Everglades Power Plant is the next step in the company's ongoing push toward greater energy independence. FPL's natural-gas-powered Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center began serving customers in April with another clean energy center slated to come online in Riviera Beach next year. Together, these three plants will save customers an additional $1 billion in fuel charges, helping to keep bills low in the future.
Powering the community and the economy
Beyond the benefits of cleaner air, more efficient electricity and low electric bills, FPL's investment will boost the local economy, creating jobs and injecting millions of dollars in new tax revenue.
The project will create an estimated 650 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs during the height of construction, and support many local businesses. In the first full year of operation, this investment is expected to deliver approximately $20 million in new tax revenue to local governments, such as the City of Hollywood and Broward County, and schools such as Broward County Public Schools.
"This new tax revenue will help our students, our public safety services and our communities," said Patty Asseff, City of Hollywood commissioner and chair of the South Florida Clean Cities Coalition. "We're looking forward to the job creation we'll see during construction as well as a cleaner energy center powered by American natural gas."
Piece of South Florida history
The former Port Everglades Power Plant, located just miles from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in the heart of a busy shipping and cruise port, helped power decades of growth in South Florida since it first came online in 1960. In that time, the surrounding Broward County community has grown in size from about 334,000 to nearly 1.8 million people. Home sizes have increased, and the average number of electric appliances and gadgets in every home has grown. The Port Everglades Power Plant has met the electric demand, while employing hundreds through its lifetime.
"For those of us who worked there, Port Everglades was more than just a power plant," said Tony Rodriguez, former plant supervisor at Port Everglades and FPL's current executive vice president of Power Generation. "We went to work each day knowing we were helping to power growing communities and businesses throughout the region. Through FPL's new energy center, we will be well-positioned to provide more efficient, American-made clean energy, meeting the needs of Florida's future generations."
- Over the course of approximately 60 seconds, eight separate series of explosions toppled each of the four 350-foot stacks and their companion 7,500-ton boilers.
- Using approximately 450 pounds of explosives, demolition experts inserted dynamite charges in pre-drilled holes at the base of each stack and used explosive charges to blast through the boilers' steel.
- Detonated from a command post 1,500 feet away, the sequence of blasts was intended to prevent more than one structure from hitting the ground at one time.
- A large crowd of FPL retirees and current employees, local business owners, and elected officials gathered near the plant to watch the early-morning demolition.