Despite opposition from residents, the Sierra Club and the Florida Public Counsel, the Florida Public Service Commission Thursday determined there is a need for Florida Power & Light Co. to replace its Dania Beach power plant with a more efficient clean energy center.
The $888 million 1,163-megawatt natural gas-fired plant is projected to begin service in 2022.
“The Dania Beach Clean Energy Center will save FPL customers from $299 (million) to $364 million, as well as generate additional tax revenues for local governments and new jobs during the plant’s construction,” said PSC Chairman Art Graham. “The new plant will also reduce harmful air emissions, helping environmental quality.”
Commissioners agreed that retiring FPL’s existing Lauderdale plant this year, and reusing its infrastructure for the new facility is the most cost-effective way to meet customers’ increasing power needs. The plant will not require any new transmission lines, substation facilities, gas pipelines or water supply.
The existing Lauderdale plant has been upgraded or re-powered three times since its construction in 1925 as FPL’s first power plant. In contrast to Lauderdale, the new Dania Beach facility’s emission rates will be reduced by 95 percent for nitrogen oxide and by 22 percent for carbon dioxide, and its water allocation for power generation will be reduced by 1 million to 1.69 million gallons per day.
In January, Dania Beach FPL customers traveled to Tallahassee to tell regulators they did not want a new plant in their city. Approximately 8,000 residents signed petitions and sent in comments. Most said they preferred a cleaner form of energy, such as solar power.
Sierra Club officials had asserted that FPL had not proved that building the unit is the most cost-effective way to meet the need for more power.
Florida Public Counsel attorneys argued in January that the plant isn’t needed until 2024.
Commissioner Julie Brown made the motion to approve the plant, saying that reliability is paramount, especially in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, which account for more than 44 percent of FPL’s demand, and that the new plant will save customers money.
In other action Thursday, the commission deferred a vote on solar energy company Sunrun’s request to allow leasing of solar panels in Florida. Sunrun had asked the commission to declare that leasing panels to residential customers would not constitute the sale of electricity and that leasing panels would not cause it to be deemed a public utility.
Third-party sales of electricity are prohibited in Florida.
Sunrun, the nation’s largest residential storage and energy services company with more than 160,000 customers in 22 states and the District of Columbia, sells panels in Florida.
Commissioners questioned Sunrun attorneys Marsha Rule and Becca Polisuk about how the leases would work and whether they would include maintenance.
Commissioners said they want to see a copy of a sample lease document before they allow Sunrun to move forward.
Chairman Art Graham said: “Even though we are not going to approve a lease, we are approving something, and there is no lease in front of us. We have no specifics on what the lease says.”