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Duke sets open house on gas plant

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By PAT FAHERTY

Special to the Citizen

Duke Energy Florida has scheduled a public open house on its proposed $1.5 billion combined-cycle natural gas plant in Citrus County.

The event will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 10, at the Plantation on Crystal River, 9301 W. Fort Island Trail, Crystal River. 

The primary purpose of the open house is to provide information about the project, including the combined-cycle natural gas technology, project schedule, approval and permitting process and environmental protection aspects," explained Duke spokeswoman Heather Danenhower. "We anticipate providing more information about employment opportunities in 2015 after we have selected an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor later this year. 

"The EPC contractor is expected to start hiring workers gradually in early 2016, if all required and regulatory permits and approvals are received. Construction and related activities are expected to add several million dollars to the local tax base and economy. 

"We anticipate 600 to 700 construction jobs to be created during the height of the project. Once construction is complete, 40 to 75 workers will be needed to operate the plant."

The event is free and open to the public. An informal format will enable people to come and go as their schedule permits and to interact with subject-matter experts. Light refreshments will be served. 

Last month, Duke announced plans to construct a new natural gas plant in Citrus County to supply 1,640 megawatts of generation in 2018. Building a natural gas plant was determined to be the most cost-effective option to serve future demand, provide systemwide reliability and meet the company’s 2018 in-service construction timeline.

The plant will be located on 400 acres near the existing Crystal River Energy Complex. It will get natural gas through a pipeline proposed by Sabal Trail Transmission. The project includes approximately 24 miles of 24-inch pipe connecting the mainline near Dunnellon to Duke's proposed plant near Crystal River. The pipeline is subject to federal approval.

Duke lists the existing Florida Gas Transmission pipeline as a natural gas supply option if Sabal Trail is delayed or curtailed. It was part of a project that added 46 miles of 36-inch pipeline to Citrus and Levy counties.