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Public Service Commission


08/15/2006 Contact: 850-413-6482

Commissioners Clear the Path for Innovative Commercial Biomass Plant

TALLAHASSEE — The five-member Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has taken a critical step to further development of the world’s first commercial-scale power plant fueled with crops grown on site.

The Commissioners voted to approve a petition for Progress Energy Florida (Progress) to buy energy produced by the Florida Biomass Energy Group, LLC (Florida Biomass). 

Florida Biomass plans to build and operate an electric generating plant on a 15,000-acre farm near Lake Okeechobee.  The plant will produce power from a tall, bamboo-like grass.  The crop will be grown and harvested in a continuous cycle and converted into a liquid fuel that will be used in a traditional combined cycle generator.  The plant will also feature groundbreaking ways to process the plant material, using unique harvesting and material-handling systems.  The biomass plant is slated to begin operation no later than December 2009.

The plant is expected to generate 116 megawatts of power, which would be the largest amount of power generated by a renewable fuel plant in the state of Florida.  Projections indicate the energy would be slightly less expensive than the average cost of electric power from other sources.  The plant will also contribute to the diversity of the fuel mix for electrical generation in Florida.

The agreement between Progress and Florida Biomass includes flexible targets, since the project incorporates numerous innovative designs.  Projections for the plant indicate Progress ratepayers could see a benefit of $39 million in savings over a 25-year period.