All fired up! Duke Energy's new $1.5 billion natural gas power plant opens to serve 1.8 million Floridians

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  • Cleaner, more efficient facility replaces 52-year-old coal-fired units

  • Construction generated more than $600 million in economic benefits

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. -- Duke Energy's 1.8 million customers in Florida are now receiving 1,640 megawatts of cleaner-burning, highly efficient energy from the company's new state-of-the-art combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County, Fla.

The station started serving customers in two phases. The first 820-megawatt power block started running Oct. 26, and the second 820-megawatt power block came online Nov. 24.

Duke Energy broke ground on the project in March 2016. Watch this 30-second video to see what the station looks like today. 

The new station will replace generation from plant retirements, including two 1960s-era coal-fired units and a nuclear plant.   

Construction and related activities helped power economic growth in the area, creating thousands of temporary jobs and increasing the tax base.

"The high-tech facility represents a $1.5 billion investment in Citrus County, surrounding communities and Florida – underscoring our continued commitment to our customers and the environment," said Jeff Swartz, vice president of fossil/hydro operations in Florida. "The station will provide a smarter energy future for Floridians by generating cleaner, more efficient energy."

Economic benefits

The project 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 also created more than 2,800 temporary construction jobs and provided work to more than 100 companies.

Locally, businesses in Crystal River provided nuts, bolts and lubricants; businesses in Homosassa and Tampa supplied concrete; and a business in Inverness provided waste-disposal services.

The new station is expected to generate about $4 million in new Citrus County property taxes for 2019.

In all, crews poured about 37,000 cubic yards of concrete – about six football fields filled waist deep – and installed about 475 miles of wire and cable.

Though several hundred workers are still at the site to close out the project, about 50 permanent workers are operating and maintaining the station.

Environmentally responsible

Combined-cycle natural gas units generate energy more efficiently and release 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 Crystal River coal-fired units 1 and 2.

Duke Energy announced the decision to retire these units in May 2014 due to changing federal environmental regulations.

The coal-fired units will formally retire in December, and the demolition process is expected to last through 2023.

Community commitment

For more than 50 years, Duke Energy employees have donated their time, talent and treasure to give back to the communities and neighborhoods where they live and work.

In Citrus County, they remove trash from roads, parks and beaches; participate in food, clothing, hurricane relief and school supply drives; serve on nonprofit boards; and sponsor underprivileged children at Christmas.   

Since 2012, Duke Energy has also contributed more than $1.5 million to Citrus County through Duke Energy Foundation grants and community sponsorships.

Other details

The new Citrus combined-cycle natural gas station is co-located at the 5,100-acre Crystal River Energy Complex on Florida's Gulf Coast about 85 miles north of Tampa.

The complex is also home to two operating coal-fired units, two soon-to-be retired coal-fired units, a decommissioning nuclear plant and a mariculture center that grows and releases fish into Gulf of Mexico waters.  

The Citrus station has two power blocks, each with two combustion turbines and one steam generator, 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 Duke Energy's largest generator in Florida, 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.

Duke Energy Florida

Duke Energy Florida owns and operates a diverse generation mix, including natural gas, coal and renewables, providing about 9,300 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.8 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.

Duke Energy Florida is a subsidiary of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK).

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S., with approximately 29,000 employees and a generating capacity of 49,500 megawatts. The company is transforming its customers' experience, modernizing its energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding its natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves.

The company's Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit serves approximately 7.6 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Its Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to approximately 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. Its Commercial Renewables unit operates a growing renewable energy portfolio across the U.S.

A Fortune 125 company, Duke Energy was named to Fortune's 2018 "World's Most Admired Companies" list and Forbes' 2018 "America's Best Employers" list.

More information about the company is available at The Duke Energy News Center includes news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy's illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Contact: Heather Danenhower
Office: 352.501.3700 | 24-Hour: 800.559.3853