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Economy / Business

Duke Energy Holds Open House on New Crystal River Power Plant

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An artist's drawing of a power plant that Duke Energy proposes to build in Citrus County. The giant plant would run on natural gas. (Duke Energy / July 8, 2014)

Duke Energy Florida will host an open house on its proposed combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County Thursday.

It will be held between 3 and 7 p.m. in the Magnolia room at the Plantation on Crystal River, 9301 W. Fort Island Trail, Crystal River.

On May 13, Duke Energy Florida announced plans to construct a new combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County to supply 1,640 megawatts of generation to help serve Florida's approximately 1.7 million customers in 2018.

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the plant still doesn't have state approval or an established supply of natural gas.

At full power, the complex would generate 1,640 megawatts, or nearly twice as much as what used to be provided by Duke's crippled nuclear plant, which is destined for a decades-long decommissioning and demolition. Critics say Duke wants to build the plant because as a state-sanctioned investment it would justify an increase in rates and protect company profits. Duke already has calculated the new plant would boost electricity rates $7.61 a month for a home using a typical amount of power, or 1,000 kilowatt-hours.

According to Duke Energy:

Building a natural gas plant is the most cost-effective option for Duke Energy Florida to satisfy customers' future demand, provide systemwide reliability and meet the company's 2018 in-service construction timeline. The new combined-cycle plant will be located on 400 acres near the existing Crystal River Energy Complex. If all necessary approvals and permits are received, construction is expected to start in early 2016. The plant's first 820 megawatts are expected to come online in spring 2018, and the second 820 megawatts are expected to come online by December 2018. Construction and related activities are expected to add several million dollars to the local tax base and economy. During the height of construction, the company anticipates 600 to 700 construction jobs to be created. Once construction is complete, 40 to 75 workers will be needed to operate the plant. The plant is expected to receive natural gas through a proposed new pipeline Sabal Trail Transmission is constructing. The pipeline will start in Alabama, extend through Georgia and end in Central Florida. Sabal Trail Transmission will license, construct and operate the natural gas pipeline.

For more information on the proposed combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County, go to www.duke-energy.com/CitrusNaturalGas.