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Barges bring parts to power plant pier – but not to revive Big Blue

Photo: A barge laden with huge hunks of high-tech steel generator parts arrives at the power plant wharf.

Two barges laden with huge hunks of high-tech steel generator parts arrived at the power plant wharf just north of the Alma Lee Loy Bridge last Saturday – but the electric components were not bound for the no-longer-operational Vero Electric facility.

The 450,000-pound generator components manufactured in China are actually destined for a combined-cycle natural gas generating plant Florida Power & Light is building south of Yeehaw Junction, adjacent to the Fort Drum Marsh Conservation Area.

Pushed and pulled by tow boats, the barges, which had plowed down the Intracoastal Waterway from Port Canaveral, nosed into the dock at noon.

A dozen or so additional shipments will be arriving in Vero over the next month, according to city officials. Once offloaded, the huge generator parts will be moved by special trucks and trailers, traversing State Route 60 in the dead of night when their size will be less of a hazard and hassle for other motorists.

A representative of transport contractor Bigge Crane and Rigging said there will be at least 15 late-night convoys rolling out of the gates of the Big Blue grounds over the next several weeks, starting on a 3-to-4 hour trek to the plant site, accompanied by escorts, utility crews and flashing lights.

The Florida Public Service Commission approved the plant in 2016 and it’s expected to go online in mid-2019.

Once complete, the FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center will produce about 1,600 MW using natural gas, which is enough to power about 300,000 homes.