Nuclear panel: FPL’s plan to inject wastewater into ground is okay

FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear plant is shown here. The company is seeking to add two more nuclear reactors at the site.

In a blow to those opposed to Florida Power & Light’s license application to build two new nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point plant, a federal panel has agreed that the environmental impact of injecting treated, reclaimed wastewater into deep wells will be “small.”

The proposal calls for millions of gallons of wastewater containing at least four contaminants from the proposed Turkey Point 6 and 7 nuclear units’ cooling system to be injected into 13 deep wells into the Boulder Zone underlying the site overlooking Biscayne Bay south of Miami.

WHAT’S THE CONTROVERSY OVER FPL’S TURKEY POINT COOLING CANALS?

Intervenors have asserted that wastewater injected into the Boulder Zone, which begins at 3,030 feet below ground, could migrate upward to the Middle and Upper Floridan Aquifers. The  Floridan Aquifer System  supplies water to millions of people and is the major source of ground water supply in Florida.

FPL spokesman Peter Robbins said Tuesday, “We’re pleased, but it is one step in a long and detailed process. We continue to seek the federal licenses, and that is still our focus.”

NRC, ARMY CORPS GIVE ENVIRONMENTAL OKAY TO NEW REACTORS

The National Parks Conservation Association, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Miami-Dade residents Capt. Dan Kipnis and Mark Oncavage legally intervened in the federal licensing proceedings in 2010.

Caroline McLaughlin, Biscayne program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association said Tuesday, “From our perspective, the disappointing decision by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board doesn’t change the fact we still have serious concerns about the expansion proposal and its potential threats to Biscayne National Park and Everglades restoration.”

Sara Barczak, SACE’s high risk energy choice program director, said the  intervenors are evaluating whether to appeal the decision.

At a May  hearing in Homestead, the intervenors asserted that the project’s final environmental impact statement is deficient. The chemical concentrations of ethylbenzene, heptachlor, tetrachloroethylene and toluene in the wastewater may adversely impact the groundwater should they migrate from the Boulder Zone to the Upper Floridan Acquifer.

In a 42-page ruling issued July 10, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board said that the NRC staff has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that the environmental impacts of the proposed deep injection wells will be “small.”

The reasons? The wastewater is unlikely to migrate to the Upper Floridan Aquifer, and even if it did the concentration of each of the four contaminants would be below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s primary drinking water standard and would pose no known health risk, the board wrote.

FPL ORDERED TO FIX TURKEY POINT’S SALTY PLUME

McLaughlin said while the NRC panel looked at only one narrow issue involving the proposed new reactors, there is already widespread contamination into the Biscayne Aquifer from the two existing reactors’ cooling canals.

WILL FPL’S FIX TO TURKEY POINT CANALS WORK?

SACE’s expert Mark Quarles argued that FPL needs to conduct seismic-reflection surveys which would provide a better way to show if upward migration could occur. The method has been endorsed by the federal U.S. Geological Survey.

Since the new reactors are not likely to be built before 2031, there is plenty to time to do such studies, Barczak said.

FPL’s Robbins said the company expects the NRC to issue the licenses by the end of this year or early next year. However, FPL plans to pause the project once it receives the license while it continues to observe nuclear construction projects in Georgia and South Carolina.

 

Construction is underway on FPL’s next eight solar power plants

FPL’s solar facility in Manatee County is shown here.

 

Construction is underway on Florida Power & Light’s  next eight solar power plants, which in total will produce enough energy to power 120,000 homes, company officials said Wednesday.

The plants under construction are in Indian River, St. Lucie, Hendry, Alachua, Putnam and DeSoto counties. The total investment is about $900 million.

The new energy centers, which will comprise a total of more than 2.5 million solar panels and nearly 600 megawatts of capacity combined, are all on track to begin powering FPL customers by early 2018. The plants are called universal solar because through the power they send to the grid, they serve all customers.

“FPL is living proof that it’s possible to generate cleaner energy and deliver outstanding service while keeping customers’ electric bills among the lowest in the nation,” said Eric Silagy, FPL’s president and CEO. “We are proud to be advancing affordable clean energy infrastructure in Florida in close partnership with respected environmental advocates, community leaders and our customers. Together, we are bringing the benefits of solar energy to more Floridians faster and more affordably than ever before.”

Each of the eight new solar plants will be capable of generating 74.5 megawatts of zero-emissions energy when the sun is shining. Power from the plants will feed FPL’s energy grid.

FPL spokeswoman Alys Daly said, “These solar energy centers will pay for themselves in fuel savings over the life of the plants. They will save customers approximately $40 million or more in fuel costs.”

Construction costs have decreased in the last few years as the panels are cheaper, and FPL has become better at building them, Daly said.

About 500 people are working on construction across the eight solar sites. FPL expects the construction workforce will grow to approximately 1,500 during peak activity this summer.

Daly said FPL is planting pollinator-friendly plants, wildflowers and natural grasses at the sites and is working with Audubon Florida to find  ways to make the sites even more environmentally friendly.

The solar plants need a lot of land, an average of 450 acres each, but  produce no emissions and don’t use any water.

The sites are in various stages of early construction, ranging from ground-clearing work to initial infrastructure installation. The first solar panels are being installed at the FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, which straddles Alachua and Putnam counties.

“FPL continues to transform the energy landscape of the state and nation, and we are honored that North Florida is playing an important role,” said Brian Bergen, vice president of economic development for the Putman County Chamber of Commerce. “These new solar power plants are about more than just affordable clean energy. They’re also delivering economic benefits right here, right now.”

In addition to a portion of the FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, the FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center is also being built in Putnam County.

The eight new FPL solar plants under construction and their expected completion dates are:

  • FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, Alachua and Putnam counties (by Dec. 31, 2017)
  • FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center, Putnam County (by Dec. 31, 2017)
  • FPL Indian River Solar Energy Center, Indian River County (by Dec. 31, 2017)
  • FPL Wildflower Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County (by Dec. 31, 2017)
  • FPL Barefoot Bay Solar Energy Center, Brevard County (by March 1, 2018)
  • FPL Blue Cypress Solar Energy Center, Indian River County (by March 1, 2018)
  • FPL Hammock Solar Energy Center, Hendry County (by March 1, 2018)
  • FPL Loggerhead Solar Energy Center, St. Lucie County (by March 1, 2018)

Florida ranks ninth in the nation for solar resource – the strength of the sun’s rays.  FPL projects that solar will outpace coal and oil combined as a percentage of the company’s energy mix by the year 2020. By 2023, FPL estimates solar will reach 4 percent of its generation capacity.

Florida  ranks 13th in the nation for solar installed, with 725 megawatts,  according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.  This includes residential, commercial and utility-scale solar.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that in March for the first time, electricity generation from wind and solar, including utility-scale solar and small-scale systems, exceeded 10 percent of total electricity generation in the U.S. On 2016, wind and solar made up 7 percent of total U.S. electric generation.

In 2016, FPL became the first company to build solar cost-effectively in Florida, leveraging its purchasing power and sites with key advantages to complete three 74.5-megawatt universal solar power plants that are projected to result in net customer savings over their operational lifetimes.

From 2017 through 2023, FPL plans to add nearly 2,100 new megawatts of solar, including the approximately 600 megawatts currently under construction. Those plants will provide enough energy to power 420,000 homes, Daly said.

The Volusia County Commission recently approved a site in Samsula, the first for the additional 1,500 megawatts of solar.

FPL has been studying and operating solar in Florida for more than three decades. In 1984, FPL commissioned its first universal solar installation, a 10-kilowatt photovoltaic facility in Miami that helped the company’s employees gain experience with the then-emerging technology.

Over the years, FPL has continued to test and operate a wide variety of solar technologies. In 2009, the company built the 25-megawatt FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which was the largest solar PV power plant ever built in the U.S. at the time.

FPL already operates more than 335 megawatts of solar generating capacity throughout the state:

  • FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, Charlotte County
  • FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County
  • FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, Manatee County
  • FPL Martin Next Generation Clean Energy Center (hybrid solar/natural gas), Martin County
  • FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County
  • FPL Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center, Brevard County
  • FPL Solar Circuit at Daytona International Speedway, Volusia County
  • Solar research installation at Florida International University, Miami-Dade County
  • FPL SolarNow array at the Broward Young At Art Museum & Library, Broward County
  • FPL SolarNow array at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, Palm Beach County
  • FPL SolarNow array at the Palmetto Estuary Nature Preser

FPL gets green light for Sabal Trail pipeline; Trump hails Dakota Access

The Sabal Trail and Florida Southeast Connection natural gas pipelines have been given permission to start pushing through gas that will serve Florida Power & Light’s South Florida plants.

The $4 billion pipeline that starts in Alabama has been controversial, and litigation seeking to prevent it from operating is still in the court system.

FPL’s Riviera Beach plant is among those fueled by natural gas.

» Eminent domain and BBQ: When they build a pipeline on your land

The approvals were announced the same day that, in a speech advocating his infrastructure plan, President Donald Trump boasted that the Dakota Access pipeline is in operation, too.

“I’m also very proud to say the Dakota Access Pipeline is now officially open for business,” Trump said. “It was dead 120 days ago, and now it is officially open for business.”

Click here to read about the Sierra Club’s objections.

» Protest to target Sabal Trail, other pipelines as Trump departs

Friday, Rich McGuire, Federal Regulatory Energy Commission’s director, Division of Gas, Environment and Engineering gave the the go-ahead in a letter to William Lavarco of Florida Southeast Connection. The 126-mile underground pipeline runs from Osceola County south of Orlando to FPL’s Indiantown plant.

FPL spokesman Dave McDermitt said Friday that the pipeline is expected to be operating by early next week.

Construction on the $4 billion project began in August 2016.

» Feds give go-ahead to Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline project

In a separate letter also issued Friday FERC officials gave Sabal Trail Transmission permission to begin operating:

  • 482.4 miles of mainline (and associated appurtenances) between the northern interconnect in Tallapoosa County, Alabama and the southern interconnect in Osceola County, Florida;
  • Alexander City Compressor Station in Tallapoosa County, Alabama;
  • Reunion Compressor Station in Osceola County, Florida; and
  • Transco Hillabee, Gulfstream, and FSC Meter and Regulator Station
  • FPL says the state’s other two pipelines are at capacity, and it needs more cheap, clean natural gas to generate electricity for the state’s growing population. FPL’s transition to natural gas to produce about 70 percent of its power has enabled the company to retire older oil and coal-burning plants.The project has been widely opposed by environmental groups and residents of the communities along the route. They have asserted that the pipeline will harm the Florida Aquifer, which supplies water to millions of people in Florida and Georgia, and could damage wetlands, scenic rivers and wildlife habitat and pose a safety threat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nuclear regulators inspecting FPL’s Turkey Point plant after small explosion

FPL’s Turkey Point plant overlooks Biscayne Bay.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission began a special inspection Wednesday at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear power plant to assess the failure of a safety-related electrical bus that resulted in the plant declaring an alert.

The plant is located near Homestead, Fla., about 25 miles south of Miami.

Saturday, an electrical fault occurred in a Unit 3 switchgear room, resulting in the loss of a safety related electrical bus — similar to a circuit breaker —  and a reactor trip. Other safety systems functioned as required, ensuring adequate reactor cooling. There was no threat to local residents or the environment, and the alert, the second-lowest NRC emergency declaration, was terminated later that same day.

The electrical fault, which caused an arc flash, or small explosion, also damaged a nearby fire door, which may have left other safety systems vulnerable had there been a fire. A plant worker who was in the room was injured and was treated at a local hospital.

“This was an event that could have had serious safety consequences and we need to know more about what happened and why,” said NRC Region II Administrator Cathy Haney. “We felt a special inspection was warranted to gather more information and also determine if there are generic issues that may apply to other plants.”

FPL spokesman Peter Robbins said Wednesday,”This was an electrical spark that occurred on the non-nuclear side of the power plant.”

Public safety was not compromised, Robbins said.

“This inspection is an opportunity for us to share with the NRC what happened on Saturday and walk through the details, both the equipment performance and the action our operators took,” Robbins said.

The three-member special inspection team will be headed by a senior reactor inspector from the NRC’s Region II office in Atlanta. The team will develop a detailed timeline of the event, review the plant response and operator actions as well as the design and operation of the fire protection features associated with the switchgear room. It will also review the plant’s fire brigade and emergency preparedness response and assess FPL’s actions to determine the root cause of the event.

The on-site portion of the inspection will take several days. A report documenting the results should be issued within 45 days of the completion of the inspection.

 

 

Black & Veatch, Blattner Energy to build eight new FPL solar plants

FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County is one of three solar power plants FPL completed in 2016. Provided.

Florida Power & Light Company said Wednesday that it has selected Blattner Energy and Black & Veatch – two of the nation’s premiere providers of renewable energy engineering, procurement and construction  services – to build its new universal solar projects.

Blattner Energy, headquartered in Avon, Minn.,  will be the contractor for four 74.5-megawatt solar power plants targeted for Dec. 31, 2017, completion: FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center, Putnam County; FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, Alachua and Putnam Counties; FPL Indian River Solar Energy Center, Indian River County; and FPL Wildflower Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County.

Overland Park, Kan.-based Black & Veatch will be the  contractor for four 74.5  solar power plants targeted for March 1, 2018, completion: FPL Barefoot Bay Solar Energy Center, Brevard County; FPL Blue Cypress Solar Energy Center, Indian River County; FPL Hammock Solar Energy Center, Hendry County; and FPL Loggerhead Solar Energy Center, St. Lucie County. Construction on these sites will be performed by Overland Contracting Inc., a Black & Veatch company.

Construction on the projects estimated to cost $900 million  is expected to begin this spring. At the height of construction, each of the sites is expected to employ about 200 people, for a total of approximately 1,600 jobs.

When completed, the new plants combined are expected to generate enough energy to power approximately 120,000 homes and prevent an average of more than 525,000 tons of carbon emissions annually. This level of greenhouse gas reduction is equivalent to the emissions from more than 100,000 vehicles or the carbon sequestered by more than 450,000 acres of forest, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

FPL already operates more than 335 megawatts of solar energy facilities.

 

Report: NextEra Energy paid no income taxes during six of eight years

Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy was one of 258 corporations whose federal income taxes were studied in a report released Thursday.

Just as most Americans are in the throes of preparing their income tax returns, a report released Thursday  finds that Florida Power & Light’s parent company,  NextEra Energy, paid no federal income taxes in six out of eight years from 2008 to 2015.

Thanks to corporate tax credits, depreciation and other “corporate loopholes,”  the tax breaks were perfectly legal for Juno Beach-based NextEra and other Fortune 500 companies. Although the statutory corporate tax rate is 35 percent, the companies paid an average effective rate of 21.2 percent.

The study, The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth conducted by the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in Washington, D.C.,  examined  eight years of data on federal income taxes of 258 profitable companies.

NextEra Energy spokesman Mark Bubriski called the report a stunt that intentionally leaves out relevant context in order to paint a negative picture.

“The reality is, we are investing billions of dollars in advanced energy infrastructure across the country, and paying billions of dollars in taxes,” Bubriski said.

Matthew Gardner, an ITEP senior fellow and lead author of the report, said, “Over the past eight years from 2008 to 2015, NextEra Energy made $21.5 billion in U.S. profits on which they paid no taxes as a whole. However, there were specific years, most notably 2015, in which the company did pay some small amount of taxes.”

In 2015 NextEra paid $10 million on $3.9 billion in profits, and paid a similar amount in 2010 as well, Gardner said. NextEra owed no taxes in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

NextEra’s Bubriski stressed that the investments are creating tens of thousands of jobs and powering millions of Americans with affordable clean energy.

NextEra Energy is the world’s largest producer of solar and wind energy and is expanding those resources on an enormous scale, Bubriski said.  Many of its investments qualified for accelerated depreciation.

NextEra operates in 30 states, and pays local and state taxes, Bubriski said. Corporations pay a state income tax in Florida.  FPL was Palm Beach County’s largest property taxpayer in 2016, with $98.6 million in property taxes, and is also the largest taxpayer statewide.

NextEra is one of 18 companies, along with other big names such as General Electric, Priceline.com, International Paper and Ryder System,  on the list of those which ended up paying net zero taxes during eight years.

The report is based on annual reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Fourteen of the companies which paid net zero taxes,  including Pepco Holdings, PG&E and Duke Energy, are in the power sector.

“Corporations can zero out their taxes or pay substantially less than the statutory corporate tax rate thanks to copious loopholes in the tax code,” the report states.

For the energy sector, especially, tax breaks Congress has enacted to encourage companies to make investments in facilities such as power plants, have played a major role.

Using accelerated depreciation,  companies are allowed to write off the cost of some of the investments they make, Gardner said.

“They will let them defer their taxes, postpone them to a different year. The idea is eventually you will have to pay taxes on this income. Companies are constantly making capital investments. They will keep racking up tax breaks until the cows come home,”  Gardner said.

Collectively, the 258 corporations enjoyed $526 billion in tax breaks over the last eight years.  NextEra’s tax breaks totaled $7.84 billion.

The five biggest beneficiaries of tax breaks were:

AT&T $38 billion

Wells Fargo $31 billion

J.P. Morgan $22 billion

Verizon $21 billion

IBM $17.8 billion

 

 

 

 

 

Proposed bill would allow FPL to charge customers for fracking ventures

A gas fracking operation is shown here.

Last May  in a win for Florida Power & Light customers, the Florida Supreme Court reversed a Florida Public Service Commission decision allowing FPL to charge ratepayers for an oil and gas exploration and drilling venture in Oklahoma.

Now two bills introduced in the Florida House and Senate on Tuesday would change the law to allow FPL to charge customers for what the court called a speculative venture that lacked legislative authority.

 SB 1238,  sponsored by Sen.  Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, HB 1043, sponsored by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford,  if approved, would allow utilities which have at least 65 percent natural gas-fueled generation to charge customers for its “prudent” investments in gas reserves and associated expenses.

FPL is the only electric utility in Florida that uses that much natural gas.

Jon Moyle, an attorney representing the Florida Industrial Power Users Group said Wednesday, “FPL’s latest business venture of wildcatting for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma, Texas and other states should not be funded by FPL’s captive customers.  While other oil and gas companies must compete to earn a profit, this legislation guarantees monopolistic FPL a healthy profit on its oil and natural gas drilling ventures, regardless of whether or not FPL’s ventures save ratepayers money.  The oil and gas business is very competitive and risky, and not something for which the Legislature should force FPL’s ratepayers to pay as part of their monthly electric bill.”

The PSC would adopt a rule requiring that any such  investment is projected to generate savings for customers over the life of the investment.

In December 2014 the PSC approved FPL’s request to collect the cost of its $191 million fracking venture with PetroQuest in Oklahoma’s Woodford Shale region from its customers through fuel charges on their bills.

Then in June 2015, the PSC gave FPL the go-ahead to invest as much as $500 million a year in natural gas drilling operations, effectively making the utility and its customers partners in what can be a risky business. FPL uses natural gas to provide about 70 percent of the fuel to run its power plants.

FPL was ordered to refund customers $24.5 million it had spent on the Woodford project.

 

 

 

 

Three FPL solar plants to be installed in St. Lucie, Indian River counties

FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County is one of three solar power plants FPL completed in 2016. l(PRNewsFoto/Florida Power & Light Company)
FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County is one of three solar power plants FPL completed in 2016.  Provided.

Three  new solar power plants in St. Lucie and Indian River counties will be among eight new facilities Florida Power & Light Co. expects to complete in the next 12 months for a total investment of approximately $900 million, the company said Wednesday.

Construction is expected to begin this spring. At the height of construction, each of the sites is expected to employ about 200 people, for a total of approximately 1,600 jobs. The sites are an average of about 450 acres.

FPL currently operates more than 335 megawatts of solar generating capacity, enough to power 60,000 homes. Its first solar plant came online in 2009.

Combined, the eight new plants are projected to provide enough power for 120,000 homes.

The following four plants are expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2017:

  • FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center, Putnam County
  • FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, Alachua and Putnam Counties
  • FPL Indian River Solar Energy Center, Indian River County, at 122nd Avenue and State Road 60
  • FPL Wildflower Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County

 

The remaining four plants are expected to be completed by March 1, 2018:

  • FPL Barefoot Bay Solar Energy Center, Brevard County
  • FPL Blue Cypress Solar Energy Center, Indian River County, near Fourth Street and 98th Avenue
  • FPL Hammock Solar Energy Center, Hendry County
  • FPL Loggerhead Solar Energy Center, St. Lucie County, off Glades Cutoff Road, 7 miles west of Tradition

 

“With the support of communities across the state, we are advancing smart, affordable clean energy infrastructure while keeping customer bills low,” said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO. “On a per-megawatt basis, these eight new plants will be the lowest-cost solar ever built in Florida and some of the lowest-cost solar ever built in America. Our steadfast commitment to delivering solar cost-effectively directly benefits our customers, our environment and the economy.”

Lower costs that come with nearby transmission and substation infrastructure continue to be a driving force behind the selection of FPL’s universal solar sites, as well as the company’s ability to buy solar panels in large quantities – more than 2.5 million solar panels in all across the eight new solar energy centers.

About 65 percent of the components in FPL’s solar plants will be made in the U.S., spokeswoman Alys Daly said.

The new plants are forecast to produce net savings for FPL customers of $39 million over their operational lifetime. The net savings are due primarily to the projected reduction in the use of fossil fuels such as natural gas more than offsetting the cost to build the plants.

“The Nature Conservancy wholeheartedly supports Florida’s renewable energy future, and we’re pleased to see FPL’s shared commitment by adding 2.5 million new solar panels at eight new universal solar power plants,” said Greg Knecht, deputy executive director of the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

“An additional eight new solar energy centers is a major step toward reducing carbon emissions and saving water, benefitting the earth and all Floridians,” said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida.

FPL’s universal solar energy centers provide zero-emissions power to the grid and are designed to avoid wetlands and minimize any impact on natural surroundings. The panels sit low to the ground, at about 6 to 8 feet high, on racks that fit directly into the soil and do not require any concrete. Once construction is complete, the plants operate without water, fuel or on-site personnel, placing little to no demand on public services.

“We are proud of our long partnership with FPL,” said Pete Tesch, president of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County. “Investing in affordable clean energy infrastructure is one of the many reasons our state is top of mind as best places to live and work. No one understands this better than FPL and they’ve got the track record to show it.”

“We congratulate FPL as they continue to increase the number of solar power facilities and welcome them to Indian River County,” said Penny Chandler, president of the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce. “The construction phase for each project will provide several hundred jobs that will result in a positive impact on our Indian River County community.”

FPL’s investments in clean energy infrastructure since 2001, which includes adding advanced technologies and phasing out older coal-fired and oil-burning power plants, has saved FPL customers more than $8.6 billion in fossil fuel costs and prevented 108 million tons of carbon emissions.

Major FPL solar installations currently in operation

FPL currently operates more than 335 megawatts of solar generating capacity, enough to power 60,000 homes. Major installations include:

●FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County

●FPL Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center, Brevard County

  • FPL Martin Clean Energy Center (hybrid solar/natural gas), Martin County
  • FPL Solar Circuit at Daytona International Speedway, Volusia County
  • Solar research installation at Florida International University, Miami-Dade County
  • FPL SolarNow array at the Broward Young At Art Museum & Library, Broward County
  • FPL SolarNow array at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, Palm Beach County
  • FPL SolarNow array at the Palmetto Estuary Nature Preserve, Manatee County
  • FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, Charlotte County
  • FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County
  • FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, Manatee County

 

 

Pro-consumer Florida energy bills would expand solar, repeal nuclear fees

rooftopsolar

A Florida Senate bill filed this week would allow property

owners to generate and distribute solar energy to residents and tenants.

Senator José Javier Rodríguez, D-Miami, this week filed a series of energy-related bills aimed at protecting the environment and protecting consumers’ pocket books.

 

  • SB 456, allowing property owners to generate and distribute solar energy to residents and tenants on their own property. The bill is supported by a broad range of groups including business groups, agricultural interests, and consumer advocates.
  • SB 974, if passed, would create a mechanism to prevent utilities from passing on to customers the cost of remediating environmental damage the utility caused, offered in response to the water contamination issues at Florida Power & Light’s  Turkey Point nuclear power plant in Miami-Dade County.
  • SB 976, if passed, would create a progressive rate schedule for utilities customers by requiring utilities to charge residential customers a 25 percent lower rate for the first 500 kilowatt hours consumed, benefitting low-income and fixed-income residents.
  • SB 1100, if passed, would repeal advanced nuclear cost recovery in Florida, dubbed the “nuclear tax” since it allow utilities to charge for nuclear power plants that may never be built. FPL wants to build two more nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, but has not been granted a license yet.

 “Consumers in Florida continue to subsidize an outdated energy system in Florida that stifles innovation, shuts out competition and hurts our environment — the bills I have filed will address those issues while giving consumers a much-needed break,” Rodriguez said.

 

 

FPL doubling up on solar, plans to build eight new solar plants by 2018

FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County is one of three solar power plants FPL completed in 2016. l(PRNewsFoto/Florida Power & Light Company)
FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County is one of three solar power plants FPL completed in 2016.(PRNewsFoto/Florida Power & Light Company)

Florida Power & Light Co. is doubling the number of new universal solar power plants it plans to add by early 2018, FPL president and CEO Eric Silagy said Monday.

Juno Beach-based FPL previously announced it would construct four new 74.5 megawatt plants this year.   Now that is doubling to eight solar photovoltaic plants that will have a total of more than 2.5 million solar panels. Each one will produce enough electricity to power 15,000 homes.

To view video of FPL’s solar plants, click here.

“We have been working hard to drive down the costs of adding solar so we can deliver even more zero-emissions energy to all of our customers,” Silagy said.

“Universal” solar refers to the fact that the plants produce power that goes into the grid to the benefit of all, Silagy said.

The plants will be located at sites across Florida, including three previously announced locations in Alachua, Putnam and DeSoto counties. Sites for five of the plants have not been revealed yet, but each takes up about 700 acres and land costs are a major factor, Silagy said.

“Land costs is something we are very focused on. You want to have contiguous space. We don’t want to disturb the environment any more than we need do,” Silagy said.

Silagy, who was returning Monday from an event at the new solar plant completed in December in the Manatee County town of Parrish, said that land was formerly cattle pasture.

While the cows aren’t there any more, Silagy said  herds of sheep are put to work eating the grass that grows under the solar panels, which saves on mowing costs.
“We have herds of sheep all over the place. We have sheep herders that move them around,” Silagy said.

Construction on the new plants is expected to begin this spring.  FPL solar plants that came online in December in Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties cost about $130 million each, and Silagy said he expects the new plants to be built for 25 to 30 percent less than that.

Costs have come down for the panels, and like anything else, buying in bulk helps.

“When you order a million panels, the first thing that happens is everyone returns your phone calls, and they work really hard to earn your business,” Silagy said.

FPL’s plant built in 2009 in DeSoto County has 90,000 panels and produces 25 megawatts of power and cost $100 million to build.

In November the Florida Public Service Commission approved a settlement agreement allowing an $811 million rate hike for FPL which began in January.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, FPL can undertake the construction of 300 megawatts of solar photovoltaic generation each year as long as it is cost-effective. FPL can charge customers for the solar installations.
The PSC must approve the costs and the company has to show there will be no net cost to customers after savings from fuel and other generation-related expenses. FPL uses natural gas, a fossil fuel, to generate more than 70 percent of the electricity it produces.

Silagy said that over the life of the solar plants, the fuel savings will be greater than what the solar plants cost to build.

The cost of the plants completed in 2016 is included in customers’ base rates. Customers will not experience any bill increases when the eight planned plants come into service, Silagy said.

FPL currently operates more than 335 megawatts of solar generating capacity, enough to power 60,000 homes.