West County Energy Center – Frequently Asked Questions
West County Energy Center – Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the West County Energy Center? The West County Energy Center is a state-of-the-art natural-gas-fired power plant providing safe, reliable, clean energy for South Florida. This plant is the cleanest of its kind in Florida and one of the cleanest of its kind in the nation.
2. Where is the West County Energy Center? The West County Energy Center is located west of Seminole Pratt-Whitney Road and north of SR 80 (also known as Southern Boulevard and the 20-mile bend).
3. Why is this plant needed? FPL currently has 4.5 million customers in 35 counties. Customer demand will drive the need for FPL to produce more power over the next decade, even with the aggressive addition of renewable energy resources and energy conservation. Hypothetically, even if there was no growth over the next decade in the state, Florida still needs additional fuel diversity, system reliability, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and energy independence that will come in large part from Next Generation Clean Energy Centers like the West County Energy Center.
4. When will the West County Energy Center be operational? West County Energy Center consists of three power generating units. Units 1 and 2 began serving customers in August 2009 and November 2009, respectively. Unit 3 will begin serving customers in 2011.
5. Why not respond to customers’ power needs with more energy efficiency? FPL encourages all customers to take advantage of our industry-leading energy-efficiency programs. Energy efficiency is important because 1) It will help you gain control over the use of electricity and, of course, the electric bill 2) It reduces our dependence on fossil fuels needed to produce electricity and reduces CO2 emissions and 3) It helps defer the need to build new generation.
FPL is the recognized U.S. leader in energy efficiency. In fact, a Department of Energy study shows FPL is the nation’s top utility for energy conservation. Our customers represent about three percent of the U.S. population, yet we have delivered 13 percent of the utility industry’s conservation efforts.
FPL invests more than $100 million each year in energy-efficiency programs for our customers. Energy-efficiency efforts brought about by partnering with our customers have eliminated the need to build 11 power plants over the last two decades. Recently added energy-management opportunities for both residential and business customers promise to save enough energy through 2014 to enable us to forgo building nearly four more medium-sized power plants.
Check out our Energy Saving Toolkit to find out how you can take advantage of these programs to control energy use at your home or business.
6. How much power will be produced at the West County Energy Center? West County Energy Center consists of three power generating units. All three units will be able to produce approximately 1,250 megawatts of power each. That's enough electricity to serve approximately 250,000 homes and businesses each. Once all three units are online in 2011, the highly efficient WCEC will be able to produce approximately 3,750 megawatts of clean energy, enough to serve approximately 750,000 homes and businesses.
7. What was the regulatory process for approving the West County Energy Center? The West County Energy Center approval process included a rigorous regulatory and environmental review. Among the reviewing agencies were the Florida Public Service Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, South Florida Water Management District, Palm Beach County, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Community Affairs, Florida Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
8. Will the West County Energy Center generate C02 emissions? Yes. All fossil fuel power plants generate a certain amount of CO2 (a greenhouse gas) emissions. However, because the plant will be so highly efficient, the addition of it to the FPL fleet will cause the company’s overall CO2 profile to diminish, resulting in a net reduction in carbon emissions. This plant is the cleanest of its kind in Florida and one of the cleanest of its kind in the nation. Overall, due to the efficiency of the FPL power plant fleet, CO2 per megawatt-hour will actually decrease. Further, the natural gas units at the plant will emit CO2 at a rate well below the proposed standards in California, a state that’s an acknowledged clean energy leader.
9. Why doesn’t FPL do more with renewable energy so that we can decrease our dependency on fossil fuels? Actually, FPL is doing just that. We're currently building three solar facilities in the state of Florida, totaling 110 megawatts of clean, renewable energy generation. For example, the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Indiantown will be the world's first hybrid solar thermal facility to connect to an existing fossil fuel plant. It is the largest of the three at 75 megawatts and is scheduled to be complete in 2010. Over 30 years, the facility will prevent the emission of more than 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gases or the equivalent of removing more than 18,700 cars from the road every year for the entire life of the project. FPL's DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, a 25-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility in Arcadia, will be the nation's largest photovoltaic array when it is complete later this year. Finally, the company is also exploring the use of new technologies such as harnessing ocean currents. To read about all of our clean energy initiatives, visit http://www.fpl.com/environment.
10. How will FPL manage its use of water at the West County Energy Center? Starting in 2011, when Unit 3 is in operation, FPL will begin using reclaimed water obtained from the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department. Until 2011, the Floridan Aquifer will be the source for the plant's cooling water. Both sources will be cycled and used efficiently, and FPL's use of water will not impact local drinking water supplies in any way.