Progress Energy Florida to Purchase Power from Proposed Biomass Plant

As part of its ongoing support for renewable energy and developing technologies, Progress Energy Florida (PEF) signed a long-term contract to purchase electricity generated by a unique biomass energy source. The plant will generate about 130,000 kilowatts (kW), enough power for about 83,000 homes. The plant is expected to avoid the need to burn nearly 9 million tons of coal over the 25-year life of the contract.

Biomass Investment Group (BIG) plans to build an environmentally friendly power plant in Central Florida using a crop known as E-Grass (a hardy, high-yielding, low-maintenance, perennial ‘energy crop’ grown specifically for conversion into power). According to the company, once constructed, the plant will be the world’s first commercial-scale, biomass power plant using crops grown onsite. As a closed-loop plant, it will contribute no additional carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by more than 20 million tons over the life of the contract when compared to coal. The contract will be filed for consideration with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). The company seeks PSC approval of the contract and certification of the proposed plant as a qualifying facility under Florida laws and regulations that encourage renewable energy. PEF purchases more than 800 megawatts from a number of qualifying facilities. They use various fuel sources including biomass, waste heat from agricultural processes and municipal solid waste. “We have a long history of support for innovation and research into new energy sources,” said Bill Habermeyer, president and CEO of Progress Energy Florida. “Efficiently managing all our utility operations — including power purchases like this one — promotes rate stability for customers. That is important every year, but especially at a time when fuel costs continue to rise.”

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