Duke Energy ‘flips the switch’ at ceremonial grand opening of new Citrus Combined Cycle Station

Duke Energy Florida on has officially opened its much-anticipated natural gas plant. Officials officially cut the ribbon during a special ceremony marking the occasion (Phto by Duke Energy on April 4, 2019)

Duke Energy today celebrated the ceremonial grand opening of its new 1,640-megawatt Citrus Combined Cycle Station located at the 5,100-acre Crystal River Energy Complex in Citrus County, Fla., about 85 miles north of Tampa.

More than 300 community leaders, elected officials and Duke Energy employees attended.

The station started producing energy for 4.5 million Floridians in late 2018.

“Our $1.5 billion investment in the new Citrus Combined Cycle Station is another example of the cleaner, smarter energy future we’re creating for our customers,” said Lynn Good, Duke Energy chairman, president and CEO. “This highly efficient, state-of-the-art natural gas station is delivering significant economic and environmental benefits to Florida customers and communities.”

Environmental benefits

Combined-cycle natural gas units generate energy more efficiently and have significantly lower emissions than coal-fired units.

By investing in the new Citrus station, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other emissions are expected to drop by 90 percent in comparison to the operation at the two 1960s-era Crystal River coal-fired units, which formally retired in December 2018.

The new station is also strategically built on the east side of its 400-acre property to protect an active bald eagle’s nest, which currently has two eaglets, and wetlands that are on the west side of the property.

Economic benefits

The Citrus station provided more than $600 million in economic benefits during construction and will provide about $13 million annually during the station’s 35-year operational life.

During the height of construction, the project created about 3,000 temporary construction jobs and provided work to more than 100 companies around the world and across the U.S. and Florida. In all, crews poured about 37,000 cubic yards of concrete – equal to about six football fields filled waist deep – and installed about 475 miles of wire and cable.

The new station is expected to generate approximately $4 million in new Citrus County property taxes for 2019, benefiting schools and local governments.

About 50 full-time Duke Energy employees are operating and maintaining the station.

“Economic development in every community needs a solid cornerstone,” said Jeff Kinnard, chairman, Citrus County Board of County Commissioners. “In Citrus County, that foundation is Duke Energy. We are pleased to participate in the celebration of this new state-of-the-art facility and congratulate Duke Energy on its success.”

Community commitment

Since 1966, Duke Energy employees have donated their time, talent and treasure to give back to the communities and neighborhoods where they live and work.

Since 2012, Duke Energy has contributed more than $1.75 million to Citrus County through Duke Energy Foundation grants and community sponsorships.

In 2018 alone, the company provided about $125,000 in Foundation grants and community sponsorships to Citrus County organizations and an additional $103,000 to United Way of Citrus County through employee pledges and the Foundation match.

Employees also logged 2,927 volunteer hours helping nonprofit organizations advance their mission, such as removing algae from a local spring and sponsoring underprivileged children at Christmas.

“Duke Energy continues to have a great local presence – its employees are woven into the fabric of our community,” said Joe Meek, city of Crystal River mayor. “With this investment, that presence will continue for generations to come.”

Other details

The Crystal River Energy Complex is home to the new Citrus Combined Cycle Station, two operating coal-fired units – which are among the cleanest in the country – two retired coal-fired units and a decommissioning nuclear plant.

The complex also has a mariculture center that raises and then releases fish into the Gulf of Mexico and grows freshwater eelgrass, donating more than 8 million individual plants for various springs and lake restoration projects.

The Citrus station has two power blocks, four combustion turbine generators and two steam turbine generators, providing the latest technology with a proven performance.

Megawatts from the new station combined with the two operating coal-fired units make the Crystal River Energy Complex one of Duke Energy’s largest generators in Florida, capable of producing more than 3,000 megawatts of energy. One megawatt powers about 800 average homes.

The new station receives natural gas through the new 515-mile Sabal Trail pipeline. The $3.2 billion pipeline starts in Alabama, extends through Georgia and ends in Central Florida. Duke Energy is a 7.5 percent owner of the pipeline.

Duke Energy Florida nears completion of state-of-the-art natural gas plant

Duke Energy Florida’s state-of-the-art natural gas plant in Citrus County is on track to deliver cleaner, more reliable energy for Floridians.

  • Duke Energy Florida Natural Gas Plant under construction in Crystal River, Florida (PHOTO: Duke Energy Florida)

    The 1,640-megawatt natural gas plant in Citrus County will provide reliable energy to 1.8 million customers across 35 counties

  • New plant will further reduce carbon emissions, allow retirement of coal-fired units

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Duke Energy Florida’s state-of-the-art natural gas plant in Citrus County is on track to deliver cleaner, more reliable energy for Floridians.

The 1,640-megawatt combined-cycle, two-unit plant will use clean-burning natural gas and highly efficient technology to provide reliable and cleaner energy to 1.8 million Florida customers in 35 counties.

“Our customers expect and deserve cleaner energy, and building highly efficient natural gas infrastructure is critical to delivering on our commitment to a low-carbon energy future,” said Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida president. “Natural gas is also an important part of our modernization strategy to continue delivering energy that is cleaner while meeting the growing energy needs of Floridians. More than ever, we are determined to make smarter energy investments that will benefit our customers and build the cleaner energy future we all want.”

Since 2005, Duke Energy Florida has decreased its emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides significantly – sulfur dioxide by 91 percent, nitrogen oxides by 75 percent and carbon dioxide by 21 percent. The new plant will help further reduce carbon emissions.

Over the next decade, Duke Energy Florida also will make targeted investments in new solar power plants and battery storage technology to help meet our customer needs for cleaner, more reliable energy.

The new Citrus plant’s unit 1 (820 megawatts) is expected to start serving customers in September 2018, and the plant’s unit 2 (also 820 megawatts) is expected to start serving customers in November 2018.

Once the new plant is in operation, the company will retire its Crystal River coal-fired units 1 and 2, which were built in 1966 and 1969, respectively. These units make up half of the company’s coal-fired power plants in Florida.

Construction and related activities are expected to have an area economic benefit of more than $600 million during construction and $13 million annually when operating.

Currently, more than 2,800 workers are involved in the construction of one of the nation’s most advanced and efficient natural gas power plants. Between 50 and 75 workers will operate and maintain the plant once construction is complete.

Florida Public Service Commission filing

Duke Energy Florida filed a request today with the Florida Public Service Commission to recover investment costs associated with the Citrus plant.

For unit 1, residential customers’ base rate would increase by $3.61, starting with the October billing period. Commercial and industrial customers would see a 2.5 to 3.5 percent increase.

For unit 2, residential customers’ base rate would increase by $2.27, starting with the December billing period. Commercial and industrial customers would see a 1.5 to 2.1 percent increase.

If the proposed changes are approved, Duke Energy Florida’s residential rates will remain below the national average for electric utilities.

Duke Energy Florida customers will not see rate increase for Hurricane Irma and related $513 million in storm costs

Instead of increasing customer rates, Duke Energy says it plans to apply federal tax reform savings toward those storm costs.

  • Hurricane Irma in full force

    Company will apply federal tax savings to prevent rate increase

  • Average residential customer will save $187

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Duke Energy Florida today announced that customers will directly benefit from the new federal tax law and avoid a rate increase for power restoration costs associated with the company’s response to last September’s Hurricane Irma.

Instead of increasing customer rates, the company plans to apply federal tax reform savings toward those storm costs.

On Dec. 28, 2017, the company had filed for recovery of $513 million – $381 millionfor power restoration costs and $132 million to replenish the storm reserve fund. Residential customers would have seen an increase of $5.20 per 1,000 kWh of electricity on a typical monthly bill over a three-year recovery period – an average of $187.20. Commercial and industrial customers were expected to see an increase of approximately 2.5 to 6.6 percent, though bills would have varied depending on a number of factors.

Like many companies, Duke Energy has been working to analyze the benefits of tax reform.

“We are pleased that this solution will prevent a rate increase for our customers,” said Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida state president. “Hurricane Irma was the worst storm to ever hit Duke Energy Florida and impacted many lives. Redirecting the tax reform savings against the storm costs ensures that our customers will reap the benefits of this new law.”

The change is supported by the Office of Public Counsel and consumer advocate groups. The Florida Public Service Commission will review the costs to be recovered and the level of the tax benefit and approve the change by year-end.

Hurricane Irma was a historic hurricane that caused widespread, devastating damage across the Southeast region. Utilities united and battled back with an unprecedented response.

Duke Energy crews and contractors from the Midwest and the Carolinas traveled to Florida to assist with restoration, as did workers for utilities from across the country and from as far as Canada to get 1.3 million customers restored as quickly and safely as possible.

In Florida, more than 12,000 line and field workers replaced approximately 1,800 distribution poles, 140 transmission poles and 1,100 transformers. Duke Energy restored power to more than 75 percent of its customers in just three days and 99 percent within eight days.

UPDATE:

 

PACE comes to Citrus County

The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program is a way that helps homeowners and businesses get financing for things such as new roofs, solar power and wind-mitigation products such as storm windows.

A program born in the Florida Legislature has finally reached into Citrus County.

The program is known as PACE, an acronym for Property Assessed Clean Energy is a way that helps homeowners and businesses get financing for things such as new roofs, solar power and wind-mitigation products such as storm windows.

Under this plan, the PACE program managers will help homeowners and businesses with those areas, and at no cost to the county, program administrators told Citrus County Commissioners at their Jan. 9 meeting in Inverness. The program will also use local contractors to do the jobs growing out of the implementation of the program, be it commercial or residential, and will also train contractors how to perform the various associated installation and other tasks.

The idea was first floated by the League of Women Voters of Citrus County, a couple of commission meetings ago, toward the end of 2017.

One PACE representative said, PACE is a voluntary tool to do things to increase energy efficiency. It’s not just just solar, but would also encompass roofs impact windows and solar. “Local contractors have been involved in 160,000-plus properties across the nation. “More than 24 counties involved in Florida and a number of municipalities” she said.

Under the plan, a home or business owners would pay for the cost of the product they want by way of a special assessment, payable on the yearly property tax bill. Other property owners would not be assessed, since they did not engage of PACE project, unless they, too wanted something done under the program.

Another PACE representative from Why Green, a part of the PACE program spoke to the commissioners and said PACE has the public in mind. He said the benefits to residents and business owners include lower utility bills, insurance, no up-front out-of-pocket cash required to do improvements, pay-back times match the type of improvements (solar being the longest) … and more.

A representative from Renovate America, also part of the PACE program, said PACE Florida has a PACE statute, and that PACE will benefit business and residential sectors.

He said PACE will train local contractors, and reiterated that PACE projects are at no risk and no cost to local governments.

CJ DeSantis, Florida PACE district representative. BOCC a regulation would authorize PACE to service residents. And it would be  non-advarolem tax assessment type of arrangement.

Commissioner Jeff Kinnard told the PACE representatives his biggest concern is that PACE might be a deterrent to lenders, who might view such a process as being a lending risk factor. A PACE representative said there is no empirical evidence that it is so.

County Attorney Denisa A. Dymond-Lyn asked what would happen if a home were sold before the PACE project was paid off. One PACE representative said that it would be part of the agreement between a seller and buyer.

The county commission decided that it would have the staff draft up a resolution, which will be presented at a future meeting of the Board of County Commissioners for a vote.

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