Article from Orlando Sentinel - December 1, 2005
Reedy Creek will power up

Upgraded generator to provide more electricity for Disney World

Reedy Creek Improvement District, which provides utilities for Walt Disney World, is boosting and diversifying its electric power sources to serve the sprawling entertainment complex.

The district is investing $15 million to upgrade its natural gas-fired cogeneration plant, which provides electricity for Disney and hot water to the Magic Kingdom and Contemporary Resort Hotel.

The upgrade of the General Electric turbine engine for the plant, located near the Magic Kingdom, is the first since 1987 and will make the plant more efficient, said Reedy Creek District Administrator C. Ray Maxwell.

"This means we will have to buy less electricity from others," Maxwell said Wednesday. The conversion to the newer engine should be complete by Jan. 1, he said, and will boost power generation from about 45 megawatts to 55 megawatts.

But the gas-fired plant upgrade is only part of Disney's energy expansion plans.
eedy Creek has an option for a 9 percent equity stake in the proposed coal-fired venture, along with other partners including Jacksonville Electric Authority, the city of Tallahassee and the Florida Municipal Power Agency, a wholesale electric company based in Orlando.

The $1.4 billion plant, which has drawn some opposition from environmentalists in North Florida because of coal's reputation for pollution, would generate about 800 megawatts of power, or nearly 18 times more power than the one cogeneration plant that Disney has on its own property.

A megawatt is 1 million watts, or enough to power 700 to 1,000 homes depending on the time of year and location.

Disney's energy needs peak at about 190 megawatts during the heavy-use months in the winter and summer, Maxwell said, and Reedy Creek buys most of that from utilities such as Progress Energy Florida and the spot market.

Diversifying to a coal-fired plant would help Disney, he said, by providing another energy source at potentially lower costs.

Maxwell said Disney's energy needs have been fairly stable in the past few years because of the lack of physical expansion, but Reedy Creek is seeking more diversity in energy sources for economic reasons. The coal plant would be so advanced it would meet tough air-quality standards, Maxwell said, and help the state meet growing energy needs at the same time.