TAMPA — TECO Energy announced a new natural gas pipeline venture on Monday in a move that underscores Florida's surging reliance on natural gas.
Florida's power producers plan to add more than 12,000-megawatts of natural gas-fueled generation between now and 2017, an increase of 45 percent, said Sarah Rogers, president and chief executive of the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council. Natural gas supplies 42 percent of Florida's electricity now, and its share is expected to grow to 55 percent by 2017.
The state's natural gas pipelines are now "fully subscribed," meaning any new natural-gas-guzzling power plant will require an increase in the state's capacity to import and deliver the fuel, Rogers said.
"Most of the power plants built in Florida in the last 10 years, and most of those that will be built in Florida in the next 10 years, run on natural gas," said Bill Cantrell, president of TECO Energy subsidiary, Peoples Gas. "We see it as really a growth opportunity for us."
Cantrell will also serve as president of TECO's new pipeline venture, SeaCoast Gas Transmission. The formation of the company was announced Monday, along with plans for a pipeline that will serve a natural gas power station being built by JEA, formerly Jacksonville Electric Authority. The planned 40- to 50-mile pipeline will cost $1-million to $2-million per mile, and will connect JEA's planned Greenland Energy Center to the Florida Gas Transmission Pipeline and the Southern Natural Gas pipeline, Cantrell said. It is slated for completion in 2010.
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