Library from Florida
Florida electric companies would have to rely on an increasingly heavy mix of wind, solar and biomass to generate their power over the next 11 years, under a proposed rule state regulators voted to send to the Legislature late Thursday. Calling their decision ''historic,'' the Florida Public Service Commission unanimously voted to send the Legislature the proposal that calls for 20 percent of their fuel mix to come from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Santa Rosa County is partnering with Gulf Power to place a wind meteorological station at the far east end of Navarre Beach in the new county park to measure wind velocity. "We know we have minimal wind here," county commissioner Gordon Goodin said. "But we won't know if we have enough to try to use wind turbines out there to save taxpayer costs in the future with Gulf Power until we get some measurements.
In a much anticipated report that could affect every Floridian's pocketbook, a consultant hired by the state says solar power could be a competitive source of electricity by 2020 in many scenarios, but it will cost considerably more than new nuclear power and natural gas, the main sources of power for present customers of Florida Power & Light. Biomass -- things like plant waste, wood chips and garbage -- will be a financially viable source in all scenarios, but wind isn't likely to be much of a factor in Florida.
The first draft of a report commissioned by state regulators says one kind of solar power and off-shore wind have great potential as sources of renewable energy in Florida, but land-based wind and another kind of solar have almost no future in the state. ...Land-based wind energy -- now the largest renewable energy source by far in the United States -- does not seem commercially viable in Florida, the report said.
People may not want them in their backyard, but some of us would love some closure on the wind turbine debate. This just in: Don't hold your breath. I'm reliably informed not to expect a public meeting about the turbines before the end of January. And that's in spite of pressure late last week from the Governor's Office in Tallahassee, no less.
Much as I like the idea of using these nontraditional methods for power generation, we need a dose of facts when anyone comes forward to propose such changes in power supplies. For example, wind is certainly a non-carbon source, but it's not a non-polluter. ...we also need to keep the "law of unintended consequences" in mind. We need to add these sources to both fossil and nuclear plants and traditional generation systems, which work without wind or sunshine.
For years, the utility has said solar is not an economical option because there is not enough sunshine or land. Likewise, there is not enough wind to spin a turbine. That thinking is about to change, and business for FPL - and all of the state's energy providers - will never be the same. Gov. Charlie Crist's pledge to lower greenhouse-gases is forcing Florida's utilities to go green. ...If regulators allow nuclear power to be included in the definition of renewable energy, FPL could count the power produced by its two nuke plants in Florida. That would put FPL's renewable energy production around 19.4 percent - within a fraction of the governor's target.
Florida Power & Light officials told state regulators today that nuclear power should join solar and wind as a renewable energy source in Florida. "I think the goal, the intent is to have the most material impact on greenhouse gases," said Eric E. Silagy, FPL's chief development officer in explaining why Florida's Public Service Commission should reconsider the definition. Since nuclear power plants do not burn fuel, there are virtually no air emissions, such as greenhouse gases that may contribute to global warming, according to FPL's Web site.
A crucial argument about the best way to combat global warming comes down to two alternatives that may seem deceptively simple: • Force utilities to make a certain percentage of electricity from renewable resources, such as solar and wind. • Make utilities pay a stiff fine for the greenhouse gases they produce from coal and natural gas, then let the utilities figure out the most economical way of reducing their emissions. ...The debate boils down to three key points: Are renewable standards the best way to deal with greenhouse gases? How expensive are renewables, particularly in the Southeast? And what's the best renewable for Florida?
Environmental concerns assumed center stage at a "Green Forum" for County Commission candidates Friday night. About 60 people heard office seekers for Districts 3 and 5 answer a series of questions posed by Indian Riverkeeper Kevin Stinnette and designed to elicit their positions on conservation issues. Whether Republican or Democrat, most were in essential agreement. They oppose the construction of wind turbines on Hutchinson Island, support tax breaks and expedited permitting for builders using eco-friendly construction and realize the need for early education to arm citizens with the facts about global warming.
It's yet another economic indicator - as if Florida's tepid economy needs one. Customer growth at the state's largest utility, Florida Power & Light Co., has dropped 79 percent during the past year. And an increasing percentage of existing FPL customers are using extremely low amounts of electricity - a sign that more homes are sitting empty across the state, executives say.
FPL Group Inc., the largest U.S. producer of wind power, said second-quarter profits fell 48 percent on a drop in the valuation of energy contracts. Its net income declined to $209 million, or 52 cents a share, from $405 million, or $1.01, a year earlier. Revenue fell 8.8 percent to $3.59 billion. FPL Energy, the alternative energy arm of the company, reported a decrease in net income of 98.5 percent to $3 million in the second quarter from $203 million last year. The net income of Florida Power & Light Co., which provides electricity for 4.5 million customers in Florida, increased by 2.8 percent to $217 million from $211 million.
FPL reportedly kept about $1 million to administer the program, and passed the rest along to a subcontractor, Texas-based Green Mountain Energy, to manage it. "We're going to take a close look at how the money was spent," commission spokeswoman Cindy Muir said Thursday. More than 38,000 customers voluntarily contributed to the program for nearly five years. Participating FPL residential and commercial customers made $9.75 monthly contributions to promote the development of renewable energy.
State regulators Tuesday terminated a Florida Power & Light voluntary green energy program because three-fourths of the money customers were donating went to marketing and administrative costs. By a unanimous vote, the Public Service Commission ended FPL's Sunshine Energy Program in which 39,000 customers have voluntarily added $9.75 to their monthly electric bill so that FPL could purchase renewable energy. FPL in turn contracted with a Texas company, Green Mountain Energy, to carry out the program. PSC staff have been trying for months to find out where the money went, but all it could learn was that 24 percent was going to purchase renewable energy. ...[Commissioner Nathan] Skop said the program was "a lot of marketing hype but very little of substance.''
County officials are pushing forward to find an independent consultant to review Florida Power & Light Co.'s environmental impact study on wind turbines and expect to have a proposal in hand by the end of next week, said County Administrator Doug Anderson. The county has a contract with Taylor Engineering Inc. of Jacksonville. Anderson said Taylor Engineering would contract with consultants who can review FPL's studies on its wind turbine project and can provide the county with its own expert view on wind turbines. County officials estimate the independent review could take up to three months to complete. Once the consultant's findings are complete, FPL's proposal would go to a public hearing.
Even if we trusted Florida Power & Light, and we would be fools to, how do you think FPL's industrial wind turbines could possibly be "exactly what the doctor ordered"? What exactly are they supposed to do for this county? ...Why are we considering endangering eagles, osprey, other wildlife and our beaches for a net gain of 1/1,000th the current generating capacity in a county that exports 500 percent more than we use? Believing FPL's bought-and-paid-for polls and studies is just begging to be lied to again.
The Treasure Coast chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has gathered more than 1,000 signatures against Florida Power & Light Co.'s wind turbine project on Hutchinson Island, the group announced late Wednesday. FPL wants to place six wind turbines on property it owns near the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant, including three at Walton Rocks beach ...The Surfrider Foundation says it has collected more than 1,000 signatures since early May, about 120 of them through an online petition the group launched June 3. The organization says it created the petition following a meeting it had with FPL officials about the project.
Trust us, they said. Trust us, because we're the largest developer of alternative sources of energy in the world. We really know what we're doing. Trust us to build wind turbines near your coastline. Yes, they'd be very tall, but don't worry. After all, we live here, too. Trust us, we wouldn't do anything to harm the environment, to hurt birds and wildlife. This is our home, too you know. The "we" here is Florida Power & Light Co. I'm sorry, but recent revelations about FPL's "green energy" practices make me trust them even less than I did before.
At present, wind provides only 1 percent of U.S. electricity, but a federal report predicts the wind could be providing 20 percent of American power by 2030. ...But perhaps not in Florida. Though pleasant breezes sweep in from the ocean, several experts say the quality and location of those winds make it difficult, if not impossible, to generate much wind power here at a reasonable cost. Florida Power & Light, whose parent is the largest supplier of wind power in the nation, insisted for years it wouldn't build a wind farm in Florida because the state's breezes weren't strong enough. That changed last year when, under pressure from Gov. Charlie Crist and the public to move toward green energy, the utility announced plans for a small wind project near the Atlantic coast in St. Lucie County.
The environmentally conscious customers who gave Florida Power & Light $11.4 million for green energy did not get their money's worth, according to a state report released Monday. The critical 19-page recommendation from the staff of Florida's Public Service Commission found widespread problems with the Sunshine Energy Program, from "highly excessive" administrative and marketing costs to millions of dollars spent on renewable energy development outside Florida. "If the Sunshine Energy Program is to continue, the program must be redesigned to address state renewable energy policies and to better serve the interest of the program's participants," the report found.