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07/14/2011 ~ The Utility Board recently approved phase one of a project which will result in an increase to the import capacity of the Transmission Line (TIELINE) responsible for providing power to the Florida Keys from the Florida mainland.

The project is a joint effort between Keys Energy Services (KEYS), the Florida Keys Electric Co-Operative (FKEC), and the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) – the wholesale power provider for KEYS. All three agencies will share the cost of the estimated $12-million project that will increase the current 277 Megawatt (MW) import capacity of the TIELINE to 320 MW, which is the maximum it was designed to carry and supply.

The TIELINE consists of 120-miles of electrical infrastructure from the Florida mainland to Key West. Due to the geography of the Florida Keys, long length of the line, and energy loads, the import capacity of the TIELINE is operating below it optimum capacity. The improvement project will upgrade existing equipment with more modern technology, which will include a static compensator and series capacitor.

“This improvement project will allow KEYS’ customers to realize $12-million in upgrades to the TIELINE, at one-third of the cost,” said Lynne Tejeda, KEYS’ General Manager & CEO. She went on to add that, “with this joint partnership with the FKEC and FMPA, we are able to improve the overall efficiency of the nearly 25-year old TIELINE that is our crucial extension cord to the mainland.”

The improvement project will be completed in two phases, with the Lower Keys’ portion being completed and energized by the summer of 2012, and the Upper Keys’ portion completed and energized by the summer of 2013.

The TIELINE improvement project will allow KEYS to retire its existing 35-year old Synchronous Condenser. Additionally, KEYS will be able to run less local generation during the summer months to compensate for the lower TIELINE capacity, improve system voltage stability during power outages, and provide long term system planning for the next 10+ years.

The regular meeting of the Utility Board took place at 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, July 13th, in the Louis Carbonell Board Room of the William Arnold Service Building, 1001 James Street, Key West.

Megawatt (MW) – A unit of electric real power equal to 1,000 kilowatts or 1,000,000 watts.

Series Capacitor – An electrical device that maintains or increases voltage in power lines and improves the efficiency of the electrical system by reducing inductive losses that produce wasted energy.

Static Compensator (STATCOM) – An advanced power electronics regulating device installed on transmission networks to solve a variety of power system voltage and stability conditions.

Synchronous Condenser – A motor interconnected to the electric grid which helps to adjust conditions on the electrical transmission grid, namely voltage levels.

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