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HOUSTON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - The Florida Public Service Commission on Wednesday approved a plan by TECO Energy's Tampa utility to convert four natural gas-fired units into a combined-cycle plant, boosting output by about 460 megawatts, or enough electricity to serve about 100,000 homes, the regulator said.
The $700 million plan will add a heat recovery system and a steam turbine to convert four gas units totaling 680 MW at the Polk Power Station into a plant able to generate 1,195 MW in the winter and 1,063 MW in the summer, a TECO spokeswoman said.
The Polk project "will save fuel, lower emissions, and use treated wastewater for cooling - improvements that are good for customers and the environment," said Florida PSC Chairman Ronald Brise in a statement.
The project, which also needs approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, is scheduled to be completed in early 2017.
After evaluating competitive bids earlier this year, Tampa Electric said the Polk Station conversion project would be the most cost-effective way to supply additional power the utility will need in five years.