Florida PSC approves new waste-to-energy plant

By Anna Austin | July 01, 2011

The Florida Public Service Commission has approved construction of a $600 million waste-to-energy plant that will be co-located with the Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority's existing 63-megawatt (MW) facility.

The old facility, which opened in 1989 and will remain operating, has a daily capacity of about 3,000 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW). The new plant will also combust up to 3,000 tons of MSW per day, adding between 70 and 80 MW of electrical capacity to the site, or enough electricity to power about 21,000 homes.

Florida Power & Light Co. will buy the electricity under a power purchase agreement that was approved by the FPSC after the commissioners slightly amended the agreement to increase cost benefits for customers.

In making the determination of whether to approve the plant, the commission said it considered the need for electric system reliability and integrity, the need for adequate electricity at a reasonable cost, and whether the proposed unit was the most cost-effective alternative available. It also considered whether other renewable energy sources or conservation measures were available to FPL that might mitigate the need for the proposed plant.

Commissioner Eduardo Balbis said the expansion will not only stimulate the economy, but also benefit the SWA and FPL customers.

FPL anticipates receiving power from the expanded facility in 2015, and it will increase the utility’s renewable portfolio by 38 percent.

The parties estimate that approximately 400 jobs will be created during plant construction and 70 jobs will be needed for plant operations.