New power generator arrives in Tallahassee

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By: Charles Roop | WCTV Pinpoint Weather
Nov. 27, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- From Italy, to Tampa, to Saint Marks, to Tallahassee. That's the trek a 645,000-pound generator took to get from the manufacturer to it's new home at the City-of-Tallahassee run Hopkins power plant.

After taking two days to get from the Saint Marks port to the power plant, it sat on the property Wednesday evening. But after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it will then be moved many yards to its final destination right next to four other generators with the same, newer and efficient design.

Henry Gainer, the Assistant General Manager of the Electric and Gas Division of the city utilities, said the 19-megawatt generator will be installed and operational by spring 2020. He says that this generator will be more efficient than its older counterparts.

"A good example is that one of our older units [generates] around 15,000 mmbtu (one million British thermal units) per megawatt, Gainer said. "This is around 8,300. [...] a significant increase in efficiency."

Part of the efficiency comes from faster generator start times.

"This engine technology can come online relatively quickly - in about a five minute window," Gainer said. " While our older technology [...] our older unit can come online between a two to ten hour window."

Since 1990, the better technology and efficiency have cut greenhouse gas emissions roughly 50 percent per megawatt produced, Gainer said. The city's second solar farm is expected to be complete next year. Those efforts, Gainer says, will also help supply more energy to the grid. The current and new solar farm is expected to produce 60 megawatts, Gainer said.

In Florida, most of the electricity generated is from natural gas,
according to data from Carbon Brief. The UK-based website found that 45,000 megawatts of electric is generated by natural gas, while coal comes in at a distant second of 11,000 megawatts. Only 511 megawatts were generated by solar. In Georgia, over 18,000 megawatts were generated by gas while over 10,000 come from coal. But more solar energy (978 megawatts) was produced in Georgia than in Florida, according to Carbon Brief.

With the threat of climate change, these efficiency efforts along with solar power would help lower greenhouse gas emissions.