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ORLANDO-Duke Energy has formally pulled out of Eustis, FL where it once planned to develop a $180 million, 640-megawatt power plant on 360 acres northwest of State Road 44 and County Road 437. The site is 30 miles northwest of Downtown Orlando.

The Charlotte-based utility firm says it is abandoning the project because the Florida Legislature didn’t approve a bill this year allowing electric merchant providers to build plants that use natural gas.

An activist group, however, the Citizens Against Merchant Power, is taking credit for opposing the venture from the beginning.

Lake County’s planning department recommended last year that building permits for the project should not be approved, largely because the venture would have to use 116,000 gallons of water daily; its exhaust stacks would be 93 feet high and the project would be a noisy operation.

Duke then withdrew its permit request but said it might come back this year with a new request.

The citizens group is asking the county to buy the tract from the Heidrich family of Orlando for a public park.

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