Duke Energy says it will build a $1.5-billion, 1,640-MW natural gas-fired powerplant on a Citrus County, Fla., site adjacent to its  damaged Crystal River nuclear facility that the utility officially shuttered 15 months ago.

Image courtesy Duke Energy
Duke Energy announced plans to locate a $1.5-billion, 1,640-megawatt natural gas-fired powerplant on a site adjacent to its Crystal River complex in Citrus County, Fla.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based utility stated that, after “a months-long request-for-proposals process,” it has decided its "self-build" option is the most cost-effective approach for constructing the combined-cycle plant.  A Duke spokesperson said the company had received six outside bids for managing the project’s construction. The utility has initiated a request-for-proposals process for the hiring of “contractors specializing in engineering, procurement and construction." Burns & McDonnell is serving as the project’s engineer.

The utility has used the “self-build” model for its last five natural gas plants, including three facilities in North Carolina.

Duke opted for the site adjacent to its Crystal River complex because of the site’s “availability of water, fuel supply, access to transmission systems, impact on transmission grid reliability and other operational advantages,” according to the spokesperson. A natural gas pipeline that will extend from Alabama, through Georgia and into central Florida— currently under construction—will feed the new facility.

Pending approval by the Florida Public Service Commission, Duke says construction could start by early 2016, with 820 MW of power generation online in spring 2018, and the balance available by December 2018. Upon project completion, the company will retire two existing coal-fired units at Crystal River.

In February 2013, Duke announced its decision to shutter the broken Crystal River nuclear plant, which had been idled since 2009, when Duke subsidiary Progress Energy Florida first began a self-managed replacement of its steam generators. The generator replacement project caused the nuclear plant’s containment dome to crack. After two failed attempts at repairs, the utility decided it would be more cost-effective to build a new natural-gas plant than to attempt another fix.

The utility also announced plans to add two simple-cycle combustion turbine generators that will provide 320 MW of power to its Suwanee Plant near Like Oak, Fla., a $197-million investment.