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.

 

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.

 

 

Sierra Club files Florida Supreme Court suit to block FPL rate hike

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

Sierra Club  filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the Florida Supreme Court to block Florida Power & Light’s rate hike for an energy plan that the environmental group says “bilks millions of customers and further locks the Sunshine State into an over-reliance on financially risky, climate-disrupting gas.”

On Nov. 29, the Florida Public Service Commission unanimously approved FPL’s $811 million base rate increase following a settlement between the company and  three customer groups. The rate increase took effect this month.

Prior to the rate increase’s approval, Sierra Club had submitted nearly 6,000 comments to the commission from Floridians who said the rate increase posed an economic hardship for them. The commenters also stressed that there’s no need for the gas-burning power plants in Florida.

Tuesday, FPL issued a statement calling the Sierra Club “an extreme group which takes extreme positions.”

The Sierra Club objects to FPL’s reliance on natural gas, which is used to produce about 70 percent of its electricity, while using solar energy to produce less than 1 percent.  It asserts that the Florida Public Service Commission violated Florida law in approving the rate increase.

Sierra Club officials said Florida law states that utilities may raise rates only after the PSC agrees that the increase is prudent and necessary to continue providing reliable, affordable power. To comply with Florida law, FPL was required to present the PSC—and the public—with substantial evidence to prove the gas plants were needed and were the least-cost option before building the plants or asking to raise customers’ rates to cover the costs.

FPL spokeswoman Sarah Gatewood said in a statement Tuesday:

“The Sierra Club is an extreme group that takes extreme positions, so while we are disappointed, we’re not surprised at the actions taken today by this Washington-based lobbying group.   Apparently they’re more interested in generating headlines and donations than working with the cleanest electric company in Florida and the only electric utility in the Southeast United States to already be in compliance with the EPA’s 2030 Clean Power Plan today.

“Rather than recognizing our innovative approach to running our business and the resulting significant benefits for all customers, including 1,200 megawatts of cost-effective new solar right here in Florida over the next four years, this out-of-state group is instead moving forward with more frivolous, expensive litigation that will cost all Floridians – not just FPL customers, but all Florida taxpayers,” Gatewood said.

“After a nearly year-long process that included more than 30 witnesses, countless hours of cross examination by attorneys for all parties, including the Sierra Club, and hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence, FPL and the Office of Public Counsel, which represents all customers, as well as other major customer stakeholder groups, reached a fair settlement that is clearly in the best interest of all of FPL’s customers – and the Florida Public Service Commission unanimously agreed.

“The settlement supports billions of dollars in planned investments to continue improving FPL’s electrical infrastructure, which is already one of the cleanest and most reliable in the U.S., while still keeping typical customer bills lower than they were in 2006 through 2020. We look forward to demonstrating those benefits yet again,” Gatewood said.

Sierra Club also criticized the $3 billion 515-mile Sabal Trail pipeline slated to be completed this year. It will  transport fracked gas to central Florida and then to FPL’s South Florida plants.

The pipeline’s construction threatens local waterways and wetlands and the fragile limestone surrounding the Floridan Aquifer, one of the largest freshwater aquifers in the world, the Sierra Club and others contend.

“There’s absolutely no justification for making families and businesses pay more of our hard-earned money just so FPL can line its shareholders’ pockets and pollute our air and water in the process,” said Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone.

Sierra Club Florida Chapter Chair Mark Walters said, “The PSC is supposed to make sure our energy sources are safe, reasonable and reliable. Instead, they’ve chosen to let FPL leave us vulnerable to price spikes when investments in solar and energy efficiency are proving to be safer and cheaper in states across the country.”

Floridians made it clear in November that they want more solar by voting down Amendment 1, a failed multi-million dollar attempt by FPL and other Florida utilities to mislead voters and hobble solar growth in the Sunshine State, Sierra Club officials said.

“FPL should take full advantage of our state’s clean energy potential instead of stubbornly building out dirty, unnecessary gas plants and pipelines that increase pollution and electric bills,” Walters said. “Renewable energy technologies are smarter, more cost-effective and safer than fossil fuels. FPL needs to stop propping up its stockholders at the expense of our communities and our natural resources.”

 

 

 

 

FPL brings three new solar plants online, four more planned this year

Halfway to one million solar panels at FPL's three new universal-scale solar plants! Construction continues here at the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County, Fla. (PRNewsFoto/Florida Power & Light Company)
Solar panels at the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Punta Gorda,  Charlotte County are shown here. Provided.

Florida Power & Light Co. connected three new 74.5 megawatt solar plants to the grid Dec. 31, and said Friday it plans to complete four more solar plants of the same size this year.

Each of the newly-completed plants costs roughly $130 million to build and  produces enough power to supply 15,000 homes, FPL spokeswoman Alys Daly said.

The plants that came online in December —  the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County; the Manatee Solar energy Center, Manatee County, and the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, Charlotte County,  bring FPL’s solar generating capacity to more than 335 megawatts, enough to power 60,000 homes.

The plants that collectively contain approximately 1 million solar panels were built on time, under budget and cost-effectively, meaning there will be no net cost to customers after savings from fuel and other generation-related expenses.

“FPL has been leading the smart- cost-conscious expansion of solar in Florida since we built our first solar power plant back in 2009,” FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy said.

“By investing strategically in affordable clean energy, we continue to improve the efficiency of our system, reduce fuel consumption, lower emissions and keep costs down for our customers over the long term,” Silagy added.

The solar energy centers slated to be build this year will be in Alachua, Putnam and DeSoto counties, with the fourth location not determined yet, Daly said.

Daly said the local communities welcome the energy centers that are silent, operate autonomously and without lights,  produce no emissions and require no water. Each has a different footprint to minimize impact on wetlands.

Because the plants generate under 75 megawatts, they are exempt from the Florida Power Plant Siting Act, and the Florida Public Service Commission’s approval is not needed.

In November the PSC approved an $811 million rate hike for FPL which began this month.

Under the terms of a 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.

Daly said she didn’t have an estimate for the cost of the four planned plants. The PSC must approve the costs and that company has to show there will be no net cost to customes after savings from fuel and other generation-related expenses.

The cost of the plants completed in 2016 are included in customers’ base rates.