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Industry News

Tampa Electric Cancels Plans for New Coal Plant in Florida

LCG, October 5, 2007--Tampa Electric, the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy, announced yesterday that it will cancel plans to construct a coal plant in Florida. In July, the utility filed an application with the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) to demonstrate the need to construct the proposed 632-MW Polk Unit 6, a coal-fired power plant.

The new unit, estimated to cost $2 billion, would employ an advanced, Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) design and would be built at the existing Polk Power Station in Polk County, Florida. Operations were to commence by 2013.

The utility stated that the key factors behind the decision were uncertainty regarding carbon regulations and related costs. President Chuck Black said, "We sincerely appreciate the $133.5 million in federal tax credits awarded for this project, but with regulatory uncertainty and related potential cost increases, we are concerned that IGCC may not be the most cost-effective technology to use at this time....We're going to take a step back and reevaluate how best to meet our 2013 needs."

The IGCC process converts coal into a synthesis gas and minimizes most of the sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), mercury (Hg) and other emissions before the gas fuels a combustion turbine generator. The hot exhaust gas from the turbine heats water to produce steam to power a steam turbine and generate electricity a second time. Tampa Electric was the country's first utility to commercialize IGCC technology in partnership with the Department of Energy's (DOE) clean coal technology program by developing Polk 1 in 1996.

As an alternative to building the 632-MW, IGCC plant, Tampa Electric will now explore other power supply options, such as natural gas and renewables, and greater reliance on energy-efficiency and conservation programs.

Tampa Electric's canceled plans follow the path of other Florida utilities. Since taking office in January 2007, Florida Governor Charlie Crist has raised concerns regarding the threat of climate change and the use of fossil fuels, particularly coal. In June, the FPSC reached a decision to not approve the two, 980-MW, coal-fired plants proposed by Florida Power and Light in Glades County. In July, a group of community-owned, power entities (Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), JEA, Reedy Creek Improvement District, and the City of Tallahassee) suspended permitting activities for the Taylor Energy Center, an 800-MW, coal-fired power plant proposed to be built in Taylor County, Florida.

In August, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) denied the site certification for Seminole Electric Cooperative's planned addition of a 750 MW, coal-fired unit at existing Seminole Generating Station in Florida. With the cancelation by Tampa Electric, roughly 4,150 MW of coal-fired generation planned to be operational in Florida before 2014 - i.e., over the next six years - will need to be replaced by alternative supplies, greater energy efficiency, or conservation.
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