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Advance billing for TECO passed

Published June 13, 2007


TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday signed a bill that would allow Tampa Electric Co. to start billing customers in advance of building a special kind of coal plant that emits far fewer pollutants than regular coal plants.

The process is called "coal gasification, " and it uses coal to create a clean-burning gas, siphoning off harmful carbon emissions so they don't enter the atmosphere.

The bill allows the utility to pass on costs for design, licensing, construction and interest for the $1.5-billion plant once building begins, likely in 2009. TECO already operates a coal-gasification plant in Polk County; this would be its second, about 60 miles from Tampa.

"Coal is an abundant resource in the United States offering advantages for both energy independence and affordability, " Crist wrote in his bill-signing letter to Secretary of State Kurt Browning. "However, if we are to continue including coal as a part of a diverse fuel mix in Florida, we must do so only in an environmentally responsible way."

The coal-gasification plant, which costs up to 15 percent more than a conventional coal plant, is a massive financial undertaking for the company, its president has said. Early cost recovery reduces the company's risk.

[Last modified June 13, 2007, 00:22:13]

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