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FPL’s Okeechobee project close to key approval

FPL commissioned its new Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center in April.
FPL commissioned its new Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center in April. emichot@miamiherald.com

Florida Power & Light’s plan to build a natural-gas power plant in Okeechobee County is close to getting a key approval, after state and local government agencies signed off, according to documents filed this week in the state Division of Administrative Hearings.

FPL needs the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to approve what is known as a “site certification” for the project, which involves building a 1,600-megawatt power plant on 220 acres.

Administrative Law Judge Bram D.E. Canter was scheduled to hold a hearing June 20 to 24 on the site-certification issue. But Canter on Tuesday canceled the hearing and sent the issue to the Department of Environmental Protection for approval of a final order granting the site certification.

Canter canceled the hearing after receiving an agreement signed by FPL, Okeechobee County, neighboring Indian River County, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Transportation. The government agencies looked at various parts of the project before indicating support for the site certification.

The agreement said FPL plans to start building the plant in 2017 and finish in 2019. The utility has already received another critical approval, known as a “determination of need,” from the Florida Public Service Commission.

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