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Seminole Electric Power Cooperative’s Seminole 3, FL

STATUS:  Canceled

TYPE: Coal

OPPOSITION: Sierra Club; Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; State of Florida (Charlie Crist)

PROSPECTS: Unlikely

BACKGROUND:  Seminole Electric Power Cooperative proposed construction of a Unit 3 for its existing Seminole power plant. It received a certificate of need from the Florida Public Service Commission in 2006 and site certification from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in 2008. The decision for the site certification followed a lengthy court battle between the utility and the state agency after Florida’s Gov. Crist’s administration discouraged the building of coal-fired power plants.

In September 2008, FDEP issued a final PSD air permit. In October 2008, Sierra Club filed a Petition for Review with the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). In the Petition, Sierra Club argued that the FDEP erred in issuing the final PSD permit because the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) analysis for the proposed plant was inadequate and that Seminole Electric failed to include plans to limit CO2 emissions from the proposed facility, citing the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA.  Simultaneously, Sierra Club and others sued to block the permit in Florida state court. Seminole, in turn, filed a revised permit application in October of 2008, which included a 'minor source' MACT application for the facility's hazardous air pollutant emissions and a request to extend the air permit's expiration date to allow for construction delays due to litigation.

On June 12, 2009, the FDEP issued a draft air permit revision for the proposed Seminole Unit 3 coal plant and extended the expiration date of the permit to July 1, 2014.  On June 26, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Florida Wildlife Federation both filed petitions for an administrative hearing on the new draft permit. In their petitions, the groups argued that Seminole Unit 3 will significantly worsen air quality in Florida and that the facility will be a major source of hazardous air pollutants, requiring a stricter MACT permit. Seminole Electric also filed a petition on June 26, arguing that the DEP did not give the cooperative enough time to complete construction on Unit 3. Seminole initially requested a 2016 extension date because it could not commence construction until all permits are final.

The Southern Alliance petition was initially dismissed for want of standing.  Then on September 9, the Florida State appellate court dismissed Sierra Club's appeal. On September 22, the EAB reached the same conclusion as the state court and dismissed Sierra Club's appeal.  Notwithstanding these litigation victories, the developers cancelled the project in December 2009 “due to the uncertain regulatory and legal environment for new construction of coal-fired generating facilities.”

The addition of Unit 3 to the Seminole Generating Station would have increased electric generating capacity by nearly 60 percent at an estimated cost of $1.4 billion.  The project would have created 50 new full time jobs for plant operators and up to 1,500 construction jobs over four years.

SOURCES: http://www.powermag.com/POWERnews/2369.html
http://www.seminole-electric.com/pdf/fact_sheet_seminole_generating_station_unit_3.pdf
http://www.seminole-electric.com/main/sections/generation/unit3/cbi_website/index.html http://yosemite.epa.gov/OA/EAB_WEB_Docket.nsf/ce9f7f898b59eae28525707a00631c97/639650271b2498db852574dc0067db4d!OpenDocument http://www.dep.state.fl.us/AIR/PERMITTING/CONSTRUCTION/SEMINOLE.HTM

LAST UPDATED: November 10, 2010