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EUSTIS, FL-Charlotte-based Duke Energy seeks an OK from Lake County officials to build a $180-million, natural gas-fueled plant that would supply daily electricity to 650,000 single-family and multifamily residences. The 46-acre site at State Road 44 and County Road 437 is 32 miles northwest of Downtown Orlando.

The planned 640-megawatt plant, however, already is being opposed by nearby East Lake County residents. They fear the Duke project will use too much water from the Florida aquifier, dry up their wells and force pollution onto their property. County commissioners vote on the land-zoning change request Dec. 19.

The project would generate at least 100 new construction jobs and create 10 permanent positions with average annual salaries of $50,000, according to the company. Duke officials plan to use reclaimed water from Eustis to reduce its need for ground water.

A $300 million proposed project by Panda Energy International in nearby Leesburg, FL would use steam instead of natural gas and require 3.5 million gallons of aquifier water daily. Duke’s plant would need 127,000 gallons daily and be a much cleaner operation than the coal or nuclear power used by comparable ventures, the company maintains.

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