A New GenerationAugust 2023
Seminole Electric completes construction of cutting-edge natural gas facility
At Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative, we are committed to providing you safe, affordable and reliable electric service. It’s not just about repairing lines after a storm. Every day our team builds new distribution lines, maintains existing lines and looks for new technologies that will enhance the service we provide.
While SVEC builds and maintains our local distribution system, the electricity you use is provided by our whole- sale power provider, Seminole Electric Cooperative.
Incorporated in 1948, Seminole is one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the coun- try. Earlier this year, Seminole completed construction on the Seminole Combined Cycle Facility (SCCF), which will benefit SVEC and eight other electric cooperatives in Florida for many years to come with its cut- ting-edge generation technology.
The new facility in Palatka is adjacent to Seminole’s existing coal-fired Seminole Generating Station. SCCF is able to generate more than enough electricity to make up for the 650 megawatts generated by the coal- fired unit it will replace.
“SCCF is an exceptionally efficient generating facility, and although it has a capacity of approximately 1,100 megawatts, it has a remarkably small footprint,” says Seminole Electric Cooperative CEO and General Manager Lisa Johnson. “It uses state-of-the-art technology and has the ability to produce electricity around the clock for our members.”
2 for 1
A combined cycle plant works by using two types of turbines at the same time. At SCCF, there are two natural gas combustion turbines that Tim Parsons, director of plant operations at Seminole’s Midulla Generating Station, compares to jet engines.
“They’re basically the same thing, just built for power generation,” he says. “All the basic components are there, jet engines are designed to provide thrust to propel the airplane, power combustion turbines are designed to provide torque to generate electricity.”
Instead of simply venting the waste heat from the gas turbines, SCCF uses that heat to power a nearby steam turbine, producing more energy from the same amount of fuel. It’s from the combination of the two methods for generating power that the station gets its name.
“The term ‘combined cycle’ refers to the two thermody- namic processes, or cycles, between the combustion turbine and the steam turbine,” Parsons says. “It’s the marriage of the two.”
The new combined cycle facility offers SVEC members the reliable power they expect, with improved efficiency and sustainability. SCCF is estimated to be approxi- mately 20% more efficient than even the most efficient coal-burning units — generating more power from the same amount of energy input.
The streamlined nature of the combined cycle plant also makes it a perfect fit for a future in which a growing por- tion of the system’s power could come from renewable energy sources like solar. While solar energy can be a great option on a cloudless day, it isn’t a reliable energy source at night or when the sun isn’t shining.
“One of the benefits of generating facilities like SCCF is that it has the flexibility to increase or decrease power production based on demand,” Johnson says. “This supports the expansion of more renewable resources, like solar, in Seminole’s power supply portfolio in the future without sacrificing reliability.”
With the completion of SCCF, Seminole and SVEC are ready to enjoy responsible, highly efficient and reliable power for decades to come.
Safe & sound
After extensive testing, SCCF began commercial operations on April 17 of this year. Construction was completed in 3 years, with nearly 500 people working on-site at one point. Parsons is particularly proud of the dedication of contractors and Seminole employees to work safely.
“I can’t say enough about how safely the jobs were done,” he says. “A culture that prioritizes safety is tremendously important during complex construction projects involving so many people and large pieces of equipment. The focus on safety that Seminole and its contractors have long fostered clearly paid off.”