Tampa Electric plans to almost double the electricity output of its natural gas plants at the Polk Power Station to meet growing demand, the utility announced Wednesday.
The $700 million expansion of the Polk County plant on State Road 37 also will allow Tampa Electric to phase out some of its purchase power agreements since the utility will have capacity to produce the power itself.
Tampa Electric, a subsidiary of TECO Energy, expects the construction project to create 500 jobs when the work reaches its peak. The utility reviewed bids and decided to build the project itself.
The expanded operation, which would convert four existing simple-cycle natural gas units to a more efficient combined-cycle unit, is expected to begin producing power by January 2017.
The plant's current capacity includes 680 megawatts of natural gas and 260 megawatts of coal. The expansion would add 460 megawatts to the natural gas portion of the Polk plant.
"Expanding the Polk Power Station provides the best value to customers based on cost, reliability and flexibility, as well as environmental performance," said Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric. "We are committed to meeting our customers' needs for safe, reliable and cost-effective electricity."
The state Public Service Commission must approve the project and the state Department of Environmental Protection must approve the site certification.
If the project and costs are approved, the utility would collect the expenses from customers after the new plant goes online.