If Florida Power & Light get the green light from state regulators, they will be pumping natural gas within four years and transporting the fuel hundreds of miles on a proposed pipeline between Southwest Alabama and Martin County, Florida.
This is a two-part project. The northern pipeline will stretch roughly 465 miles from Alabama to a hub in Central Florida. From there, a second line will run 126 miles to an FPL plant in Martin County. This project is in partnership with Spectra Energy Corp., and NextEra Energy. Specific information about this pipeline project in Florida can be found here.
“This project has a central Florida hub that interconnects the existing pipeline system in Florida, the Florida Gas Transmission pipeline and the Gulfstream pipeline,” said FPL Vice President Mike Sole, “so that we also significantly improve the reliability of the pipeline infrastructure in Florida.”
The existing pipeline capacity is almost full, so FPL solicited proposals from companies to construct the pipelines. Two companies were chosen, and they will spend an estimated $3.6 billion to do the work.
Sole says Florida Power & Light won’t pay construction costs, but it will pay rent – essentially buying the right to move gas along the line.
“We hope and expect to begin construction in 2016 and complete that construction and actually begin using the pipeline in 2017,” Sole said. “We expect to see some 8,600 direct and indirect jobs associated with construction of this pipeline.”
Florida Power & Light has to go through a lot of permitting at the federal, state and local level.
This process actually started in 2009 when the company offered up a very different proposal. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) rejected the pipeline proposal and told Florida Power & Light to come up with something more cost effective. That led to the current proposal.
Tom Ballinger, director of engineering for the PSC, can’t comment on whether this new proposal will be approved. But he can talk about the potential impact.
“It’s a very highly regulated industry on the safety and the construction aspects of it. Obviously to build a large infrastructure project like this is going to take many years, many jobs,” Ballinger said. “It’s going to be a huge impact on Florida’s economy. We are the second largest consumer of natural gas in the United States – Texas being the first, California actually below us.”
About two-thirds of the electricity FPL supplies to Floridians is produced by natural gas.
MATCOR’s Insights that Work
The companies are sure to reap large benefits from this natural gas pipeline. However, there is a large responsibility for pipeline safety, cathodic protection management and more.
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