July 20, 2024

Citrus Times

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Duke Energy ‘flips the switch’ at ceremonial grand opening of new Citrus Combined Cycle Station

3 min read
Duke Energy Florida on has officially opened its much-anticipated natural gas plant. Officials officially cut the ribbon during a special ceremony marking the occasion (Phto by Duke Energy on April 4, 2019)

Duke Energy today celebrated the ceremonial grand opening of its new 1,640-megawatt Citrus Combined Cycle Station located at the 5,100-acre Crystal River Energy Complex in Citrus County, Fla., about 85 miles north of Tampa.

More than 300 community leaders, elected officials and Duke Energy employees attended.

The station started producing energy for 4.5 million Floridians in late 2018.

“Our $1.5 billion investment in the new Citrus Combined Cycle Station is another example of the cleaner, smarter energy future we’re creating for our customers,” said Lynn Good, Duke Energy chairman, president and CEO. “This highly efficient, state-of-the-art natural gas station is delivering significant economic and environmental benefits to Florida customers and communities.”

Environmental benefits

Combined-cycle natural gas units generate energy more efficiently and have significantly lower emissions than coal-fired units.

By investing in the new Citrus station, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other emissions are expected to drop by 90 percent in comparison to the operation at the two 1960s-era Crystal River coal-fired units, which formally retired in December 2018.

The new station is also strategically built on the east side of its 400-acre property to protect an active bald eagle’s nest, which currently has two eaglets, and wetlands that are on the west side of the property.

Economic benefits

The Citrus station provided more than $600 million in economic benefits during construction and will provide about $13 million annually during the station’s 35-year operational life.

During the height of construction, the project created about 3,000 temporary construction jobs and provided work to more than 100 companies around the world and across the U.S. and Florida. In all, crews poured about 37,000 cubic yards of concrete – equal to about six football fields filled waist deep – and installed about 475 miles of wire and cable.

The new station is expected to generate approximately $4 million in new Citrus County property taxes for 2019, benefiting schools and local governments.

About 50 full-time Duke Energy employees are operating and maintaining the station.

“Economic development in every community needs a solid cornerstone,” said Jeff Kinnard, chairman, Citrus County Board of County Commissioners. “In Citrus County, that foundation is Duke Energy. We are pleased to participate in the celebration of this new state-of-the-art facility and congratulate Duke Energy on its success.”

Community commitment

Since 1966, Duke Energy employees have donated their time, talent and treasure to give back to the communities and neighborhoods where they live and work.

Since 2012, Duke Energy has contributed more than $1.75 million to Citrus County through Duke Energy Foundation grants and community sponsorships.

In 2018 alone, the company provided about $125,000 in Foundation grants and community sponsorships to Citrus County organizations and an additional $103,000 to United Way of Citrus County through employee pledges and the Foundation match.

Employees also logged 2,927 volunteer hours helping nonprofit organizations advance their mission, such as removing algae from a local spring and sponsoring underprivileged children at Christmas.

“Duke Energy continues to have a great local presence – its employees are woven into the fabric of our community,” said Joe Meek, city of Crystal River mayor. “With this investment, that presence will continue for generations to come.”

Other details

The Crystal River Energy Complex is home to the new Citrus Combined Cycle Station, two operating coal-fired units – which are among the cleanest in the country – two retired coal-fired units and a decommissioning nuclear plant.

The complex also has a mariculture center that raises and then releases fish into the Gulf of Mexico and grows freshwater eelgrass, donating more than 8 million individual plants for various springs and lake restoration projects.

The Citrus station has two power blocks, four combustion turbine generators and two steam turbine generators, providing the latest technology with a proven performance.

Megawatts from the new station combined with the two operating coal-fired units make the Crystal River Energy Complex one of Duke Energy’s largest generators in Florida, capable of producing more than 3,000 megawatts of energy. One megawatt powers about 800 average homes.

The new station receives natural gas through the new 515-mile Sabal Trail pipeline. The $3.2 billion pipeline starts in Alabama, extends through Georgia and ends in Central Florida. Duke Energy is a 7.5 percent owner of the pipeline.

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