Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) formally commissioned its Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center - one of the cleanest, most energy-efficient plants in the nation. Over its operational lifetime, the new, fuel-efficient plant is expected to provide FPL customers with hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel and other savings. The company also announced plans for the construction of a new manatee education center that will be built on the energy center site - the first of its kind in the company's 35-county service area.
"The Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center is yet another demonstration of our commitment to dramatically reducing our dependence on foreign oil, while at the same time, delivering clean, reliable and affordable electricity for all of our customers," said Eric Silagy, president of FPL. "Importantly, we completed this clean energy center early and under budget, saving our customers money in the process. It's one more example of how the 9,000 employees of FPL are working hard each and every day to ensure FPL customers continue to benefit from electric bills that are the lowest in the state and 25 percent below the national average."
FPL invested approximately $1.3 billion to build the new energy center on the same site in Palm Beach County where a 1960s-era oil-burning plant was dismantled in 2011. Construction was completed two months ahead of schedule, allowing the plant to officially enter commercial operation on April 1.
By using clean, low-cost American natural gas to provide electricity to its 4.7 million customers, FPL has reduced its use of foreign oil by more than 99 percent - dropping from more than 40 million barrels in 2001 to fewer than 1 million barrels annually.
The new energy center is capable of producing more than 1,250 megawatts of electricity, 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.
"Innovative infrastructure, such as this clean energy center, is beneficial not only to the environment, but to Florida's economy as well," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. "Energy and cost-efficient technologies are attractive lures for business owners, entrepreneurs and consumers alike - an outcome which benefits all Floridians."
New energy center benefits local economy, environment
FPL's investment in the new energy center also brings with it important economic benefits for the local economy. At the peak of construction, more than 950 people were employed, the majority of whom were Floridians, giving an economic boost to numerous local businesses. FPL expects to provide approximately $25 million in new local tax revenue during the energy center's first year of operation and more than $350 million in tax revenue during its lifetime for Palm Beach County and local government services.
Approximately $8 million of the total tax revenue generated from the new energy center annually will benefit the Riviera Beach community.
"Your investment is arming us with increased capital to invest in our city's infrastructure and to change the economic fortunes of our residents by attracting and retaining businesses that create jobs for our local residents," said Tony Brown, executive director of the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency.
In addition to saving on fuel costs, the energy center's technology further improves FPL's emissions profile - already among the cleanest in the United States. The new facility generates power with half the rate of carbon dioxide emissions and more than 90 percent fewer air emissions, compared to the former Riviera Beach plant. Additionally, the energy center's administration building was built to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and features rooftop solar panels.
Other investments in clean, efficient generation
The Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center is part of FPL's ongoing effort to modernize its power generation fleet in order to continue providing clean, affordable, reliable electricity for its customers. These investments, which are projected to save customers billions of dollars in fossil fuel costs, include:
- Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center: In April 2013, FPL commissioned the new energy center, which replaced the 1960s-era power plant on the Space Coast.
- Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center: The company dismantled the Port Everglades Plant in July 2013. It will be replaced by FPL's Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center, which is expected to enter service in June 2016.
- St. Lucie and Turkey Point Nuclear Plant Uprate Project: In 2013, FPL completed the largest extended power uprate project in the country, adding more than 520 megawatts of new, zero-emissions energy through massive upgrades of its two nuclear power plants.
For more information, visit www.FPL.com/modernizations.
FPL to establish manatee education center for the public
During the ceremony, FPL also unveiled renderings for its new manatee education center. Manatees have traditionally warmed themselves along Florida's coastline during the winter months near the outflow of water from power plants. The Key West-style center, situated along the Intracoastal Waterway, is scheduled to open in November 2015. To foster continued support for this endangered species, the center will include meeting rooms, educational exhibits, a boardwalk and manatee viewing area.
"For nearly 40 years, I have found FPL to be a great environmental partner, doing its part to safeguard endangered manatees that have sought out the warm waters of its power plants," said Patrick Rose, executive director of Save the Manatee Club. "Establishing an education center on this site is another tremendous step they have taken to ensure that future generations of Floridians and more will understand and appreciate this endearing and defenseless endangered marine mammal."
Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the largest rate-regulated electric utility in Florida and serves the third-largest number of customers of any electric utility in the United States. FPL serves approximately 4.7 million customer accounts and is a leading Florida employer with approximately 8,900 employees as of year-end 2013. FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential bill is the lowest among reporting electric utilities in Florida as of year-end 2013, and based on data available in July 2013, is about 28 percent below the national average. A clean energy leader, FPL has one of the lowest emissions profiles and one of the leading energy efficiency programs among utilities nationwide. FPL delivered better than 99.98 percent service reliability as of year-end 2013. FPL has earned the national ServiceOne Award for outstanding customer service for an unprecedented 10 consecutive years. FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE).