Friday, June 15, 2018
Business

FPL awards natural gas pipeline contract to Texas firm

Florida's largest utility picked a Texas firm to build a third major natural gas pipeline into the state that would run from Alabama through the heart of the peninsula.

Under the proposal chosen by Florida Power & Light, Spectra Energy, of Houston, would build 465 miles of new natural gas pipeline at a cost of $3 billion. The project would increase the state's natural gas pipeline system by more than 20 percent when completed in 2017.

The project still must receive final approval from the state Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

"This is a significant improvement to Florida's pipeline infrastructure," said Mike Sole, FPL's vice president for state government affairs. "It brings more natural gas to Florida, which is clearly needed."

Florida receives most of its natural gas from two pipeline companies, Florida Gas Transmission, whose line runs across the panhandle down to Miami-Dade County, and Gulfstream Natural Gas, whose line flows from Mobile Bay, Ala., to Manatee County.

In addition to adding 465 miles of new interstate pipeline, the project also would connect the new major line, called the Sabal Trail Transmission, to the other two major lines. Florida Gas Transmission and Gulfstream currently are not connected.

Other natural gas users such as Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric also could tap the new pipeline.

"This project is designed to service the entire peninsula, the entire state," said Dave Shammo, a Spectra Energy Transmission vice president.

FPL plans to spend $550 million for an additional line to connect the Sabal Trail Transmission to its Martin County plant.

Sole said there has been a growing need for more pipeline capacity in Florida, the second largest natural gas user in the country behind Texas.

FPL recently fired up a new natural gas plant in Cape Canaveral and plans to add two similar power plants in Rivera Beach and Port Everglades over the next few years.

Duke Energy is proposing to build a new natural gas plant to replace the broken and shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant.

The state already produces 60 percent of its electricity from natural gas and that is expected to grow as dirty coal plants go offline and more natural gas units replace them.

Duke and FPL are proposing to build new nuclear plants, but licensing and cost have delayed those projects. And questions abound whether they will ever get built.

Even so, Sole says the new pipeline is needed independent of the plans for the reactors.

"We continue to evaluate and pursue additional nuclear," Sole said. "What this project does is also address our need … We see natural gas as an important element, just as renewables are. I think they all complement each other."

FPL is seeking the PSC approval for the project by the end of the year.

In 2009, the PSC rejected FPL's last pipeline proposal because commissioners said they did not believe the $1.53 billion project was the best and cheapest option for the utility's customers.

This time around, FPL consulted with the commission before issuing its request for proposals.

Spectra Energy says it hopes federal regulators will sign off on the project by mid-2016 in time enough to bring the pipeline in service in May 2017.

Ivan Penn can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Your barista is a robot. Should it be friendly?

Your barista is a robot. Should it be friendly?

SAN FRANCISCO - The cold, steely arm of Fernando the Barista swirled the foam of my matcha latte, set it down gently, and waved goodbye from inside a glass case. San Francisco, 2018. Where you can get robot pizza and robot salad, and now, a robot mat...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Florida’s unemployment rate drops to 3.8 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate drops to 3.8 percent

Just when it seemed like Florida’s unemployment rate couldn’t get lower, it did. According to the state figures out Friday, Florida’s jobless rate dipped to a near 18-year low of 3.8 percent in May after holding steady at 3.9 percen...
Published: 06/15/18
St. Petersburg home becomes finalist in HGTV contest

St. Petersburg home becomes finalist in HGTV contest

ST. PETERSBURG — A house in St. Petersburg’s Old Northeast is a finalist in HGTV’s Ultimate House Hunt contest. Built in 2007 in the Mission Revival style, the 4,000-square-foot home a block from Coffee Pot Bayou is among 12 nationwide in the "curb a...
Published: 06/15/18
Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg

Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Filling in a hole that was left by The Iron Yard’s exodus last year, a new computer coding school will open its doors to its first class in downtown St. Petersburg on July 23.The Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild will operate thro...
Published: 06/15/18
Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates pays $43-million for Boynton Beach apartment community

Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates pays $43-million for Boynton Beach apartment community

Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates, has bought Aventine at Boyton Beach, a 216-unit apartment community, for $43 million.Aventine, garden-style apartments that are 95 percent occupied, will be renovated and renamed "Verona at Boynton Beach."It i...
Published: 06/15/18
Florida craft beer guild: Big Beer is pushing us out of Publix

Florida craft beer guild: Big Beer is pushing us out of Publix

The national battle between Big Beer and local craft breweries is playing out on the shelves of your neighborhood Publix — and some favorite Florida brewmakers are losing.The guild that represents Florida brewers says at least 12 small breweries have...
Published: 06/15/18
Accused of racial profiling, Lowe’s ends policy of checking customer receipts as they leave

Accused of racial profiling, Lowe’s ends policy of checking customer receipts as they leave

Memorial Day weekend was supposed to bring three productive days of home improvement for Will Mega, a dean at a North Philadelphia charter school.He’d go to two Lowe’s locations near his home in Philadelphia’s Wynnefield neighborhood for a grill and ...
Published: 06/15/18
McDonald’s to test alternatives to plastic straws in U.S.

McDonald’s to test alternatives to plastic straws in U.S.

NEW YORK — McDonald’s said Friday it will switch to paper straws at all its locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and test an alternative to plastic ones in some of its U.S. restaurants later this year.The burger chain and other fast-food comp...
Published: 06/15/18
Extending Albert Whitted’s runway could help Innovation District takeoff

Extending Albert Whitted’s runway could help Innovation District takeoff

ST. PETERSBURG — Albert Whitted Airport wants to extend its main runway. But what would benefit the airport could also benefit the St. Pete Innovation District.Moving the runway would ease building restrictions around the airport, allowing the Univer...
Published: 06/15/18
Strange brew? Tampa Bay group hopes to grow hops and medical marijuana in the same spot

Strange brew? Tampa Bay group hopes to grow hops and medical marijuana in the same spot

ST. PETERSBURG --- Among topics that stir passionate interest, two that rank high are medical marijuana and craft beers.A group of Tampa Bay entrepreneurs has ambitious plans to profit from both.They are leasing a vast warehouse space in St. Petersbu...
Published: 06/15/18