In April, 1965, just weeks before astronaut Ed White opened the hatch of Gemini 4 to become the first American to walk into space, Florida Power & Light launched a new power plant to help provide energy for the emerging space program.
The company gave its facility a name to reflect this new and vital partnership – the Cape Canaveral Power Plant.
"NASA’s had a partnership with Florida Power & Light since the ‘60’s,” said NASA Public Affairs Director Allard Beutel. “President Kennedy laid out a few years earlier that we would go to the moon and back safely by the end of the 1960’s. And that was all from scratch. We needed buildings and facilities and everything requires electricity.”
From the Apollo missions, which achieved that most magnificent goal of landing a man on the moon, to the shuttle program and the construction of the international space station, NASA’s investments in the future, and innovations in technology helped it soar to new heights.
For nearly 50 years, FPL has helped its partner fuel that innovation.
"The plant became more efficient,” said Mark Lemasney, FPL’s General Manager at its Cape Canaveral Plant. “We added natural gas to what was originally an oil fired plant. We invested to improve our operations, which allowed us to meet the growing needs of the space program.”
In 2010, FPL prepared to take its most innovative step yet. The company demolished its original plant to make room for a new, highly efficient clean energy center. The Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center, scheduled to come online in 2013, is designed to produce more electricity using a third less fuel and cut emissions in half.
“This really is an investment in the future,” said Lemansey. “We will create a state-of-the-art, clean energy center that will pay for itself in the savings our customers, including NASA, will realize over the life of this plant.”
The project is already having a powerful impact on the Space Coast.
“It’s beautiful, it’s incredible,” said Sarah Cespedes of Port St. John, who works as a receptionist on the site of the future clean energy center. “There are a lot of local people working here and I’m one of them.”
James Gatton of Meritt Island is another local resident who has joined the 650 people employed on the project. He says he’s excited about the work and the legacy they are building for the region.
“It has been fantastic,” said Gatton. “With the state of the economy, it’s really boosting it.”
When the project is complete, the new clean energy center is expected to generate $12 million in tax revenue to the local schools and governments in the Brevard County area.
“Whether it’s supporting future space flight or the growing needs of businesses and residents of the Space Coast, FPL and its Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center will stand ready to power that future with affordable, reliable electricity,” said Lemasney.
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