Efficiency Expert at FPL
FPL works hard every day to deliver the lowest electric bills in the state. One way we keep costs down is by tapping into the expertise of our employees.
Six Sigma Black Belt Carine Bullock is an engineer who loves to understand as many aspects of a power plant as possible. She is so interested in the details that her Black Belt project focused on reducing inventory at plants through analyzing and improving the company's process around evaluating dormant materials.
With her attention to detail and enthusiasm, Carine helped bring into operation the third unit at FPL's West County Energy Center in Palm Beach County. This plant, which is one of the most powerful in the country, is also one of the most advanced and efficient.
FPL's West County Energy Center saved customers about $20 million in fuel costs in the latter half of 2011 alone. The plant started up in June 2011. Over the center's 30-year lifetime, it is expected to deliver net savings to FPL customers of up to $750 million.
While these savings understandably gain a lot of attention, the use of advanced technology and the progressive water management practices are what one of WCEC's first General Managers, Carine Bullock, thinks set this facility apart.
What innovative technology is used at WCEC?
The facility's advanced combustion turbines, which essentially are the heart of the power plant, are the first units of their kind in FPL's system and among only a handful operating in the country. They deliver more energy than any other combustion turbines in our power generation fleet.
Innovative technology also allows the center to feature several environmental benefits. Its clean-burning natural gas system greatly minimizes the plant's emissions profile, while nearly 20 million gallons of reclaimed water from Palm Beach County Water Utilities are utilized daily in plant operations.
What is so unique about the water used to help produce power at the site?
The center's water system will defer millions of dollars in capital costs by reducing the use of deep-injection wells. By using reclaimed water, the West County Energy Center will save Palm Beach County and the four municipalities feeding this facility about a half-million dollars annually, because they will pump less water underground.
We will avoid the use of 8 billion gallons of drinking-quality water in South Florida each year, which is equal to the water used by approximately 50,000 households annually.
Why doesn't FPL have more plants like this?
We clearly see the benefits of this technology and are modernizing our older power plants in Brevard and Palm Beach counties to use the same, efficient technology. We've also proposed doing the same at our Port Everglades plant in Broward County.
We're also looking to see if there are other facilities where we can use reclaimed water to help cut costs and provide environmental benefits.