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Calif. power firm closer to building Fla. plant

By DEBORAH CIRCELLI

Oct. 21, 2000 (The Palm Beach Post)—A California power company has moved one step closer to setting up a wholesale electricity plant in Florida.

The state Public Service Commission on Tuesday rejected requests from Florida Power & Light Co. and Florida Power Corp. of St. Petersburg that Calpine Corp. be blocked from building a 540- megawatt natural gas power plant in Polk County. The San Jose, Calif.- based company plans to submit a similar request next month for a plant at the St. Lucie-Indian River county line.

Under Florida law, out-of-state energy plants must show that the power they generate will be dedicated to retail customers. Calpine told commissioners it signed an agreement Tuesday to sell all of its power to Seminole Electric Cooperative Inc. in Tampa, which provides bulk electricity to 10 distribution cooperatives. The cooperatives provide power to 680,000 retail customers.

“We’re very pleased,” said Tim Eves, Calpine’s director of business development. “We said from the beginning that the power would be committed to Florida retail customers.”

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in April that the PSC does not have the authority to approve out-of-state wholesale plants whose power will not go to retail customers. The PSC has put applications for four such plants on hold.

Attorneys for FPL and Florida Power argued that Calpine is not a “qualified applicant” until retail contracts are signed. But commissioners said Calpine will have an opportunity to show the agency during hearings that it can meet the retail requirement.

Hearings in the Calpine case originally were set for November, but have been pushed back.

“We need additional power in this state. No one can argue with that,” Commissioner Lila Jaber said.

Commissioner Leon Jacobs said Florida has to figure out how to allow out-of-state power companies in, and “do it quickly.”

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