Florida Power & Light

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Florida Power & Light
Subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc.
Industry Electric Utilities
Founded 1925
Headquarters Juno Beach, Florida, United States
Area served
Florida
Key people
Eric Silagy President & CEO
Products Electricity generation, transmission and distribution
Number of employees
9,000
Website fpl.com

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), the principal subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc. (formerly FPL Group, Inc.), is a Juno Beach, Florida-based power utility – and the largest electric utility in the state [1] – serving roughly 4.7 million customers and 9 million people in Florida.[2] It generates, transmits, distributes and sells electric energy.

History[edit]

FPL Group, Inc. logo

FPL was founded in 1925 by merging a number of smaller companies providing power and other services to local communities in northeastern Florida, and grew with the growth in population the state has experienced.[citation needed]

In 1989, FPL was the first company outside of Japan to win the Deming Prize.[3]

On June 20, 2005, FPL Group completed acquisition of Gexa Energy,[4] a retail electricity provider located in Houston and active in the deregulated Texas electricity market. At the time of acquisition, Gexa Energy had grown to over $273 million in 2004 revenues and further had been serving 100,000 total meters within the state of Texas. FPL Group acquired Gexa Energy for approximately US$81 million.

On December 19, 2005, FPL Group, Inc. announced that it was purchasing Constellation Energy Group (holding company for the former Baltimore Gas and Electric Company – founded 1816 as the Gas Light Company of Baltimore, America's oldest utility company by Rembrandt Peale and others) in a merger transaction valued at more than $11 billion, and that it would adopt "Constellation Energy" as its name for the post-merger entity. The merger was cancelled on 25 October 2006.[5]

On January 7, 2009, FPL Energy changed its name to NextEra Energy Resources to highlight its commitment to renewable energy.[6]

In 2011, construction was started on a $1.1 billion gas-fired plant replacement of its Cape Canaveral facility, which is located in Sharpes.[7]

Power generation[edit]

FPL's power generation
FPL's power generation (2013) - Solar and Oil together account for less than 1%

FPL generates 25 gigawatts of energy with a diverse mix of fuels.[8] FPL obtains most of its electricity from natural gas. Nuclear power is responsible for another significant portion of power production. In addition, FPL has begun operations of three commercial-scale, solar energy facilities in the Florida[9] and is planning an expansion to its Turkey Point nuclear facility.[10]

Natural gas plants[edit]

FPL uses roughly 1.5 billion to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day to power customers. Looking across the state, Florida utilities consumed an average of almost 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2012 – for a total annual consumption of more than 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.[11] Using domestic natural gas instead of foreign oil to generate power saves FPL customers billions of dollars on fuel – and since 2001, FPL customers have saved more than $6.5 billion because of FPL’s natural gas power plants, while FPL has reduced the amount of foreign oil it purchased by more than 98 percent – from more than 40 million barrels of oil in 2001 to less than 1 million barrels annually.[12]

Modernization[edit]

FPL is modernizing three 1960s-era power plants by replacing old oil-burning plants with state-of-the-art, natural gas-fired Next Generation Clean Energy Centers. Located in Cape Canaveral, Riviera Beach, and Port Everglades, these power plants will be 33 percent more fuel-efficient and 90 percent cleaner than the facilities they replace.[11]

Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center[edit]

The Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center began serving customers in the spring of 2014. Using clean and affordable, U.S.-produced natural gas, this modernized, combined-cycle natural gas plant was constructed at a cost of approximately $1.3 billion and replaces a 1960s-era, oil-and-gas-fired plant that was demolished on June 19, 2011. This plant uses 33 percent less fuel per megawatt-hour, which reduces future fuel costs for customers, produces fewer emissions, and can generate up to 1,250 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power roughly 250,000 homes and businesses.[12]

Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center[edit]

The Cape Canaveral Next Generation Clean Energy Center, located in Brevard County, Florida, near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, is part of FPL's ongoing effort to replace older plants with newer, more fuel-efficient energy centers. In 2010, FPL took down the 1960s-era Cape Canaveral Plant, which had been built to power the space race and serve FPL customers for half a century. In its place, FPL built a new, high-efficiency energy center that runs on clean, U.S.-produced natural gas.[13]

West County Energy Center[edit]

FPL’s West County Energy Center, which began serving customers in 2009, is one of the largest and cleanest plants of its kind in the U.S. and with customer demand constantly growing, the West County Energy Center helps FPL meet that demand with fuel diversity, system reliability, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and energy independence.[14]

During its construction in 2008, activists complained about the 3,800 megawatt combined cycle natural gas plant, arguing that the location of the power plant, less than 1,000 feet (300 m) from the northern point of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, would endanger the entire Everglades ecosystem including the approximately thirty threatened or endangered species that live in the refuge, though no proof has emerged of those claims. Because the plant uses large amounts of water to cool its turbines which can reach up to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit,[15] activists also argued that millions of gallons of waste water will be deep-well injected below the Floridan aquifer daily, putting a strain on water supplies in South Florida if the power plant was completed.[16] However, the plant recycles its water and reuses it up to six times. In fact, the plant is 30 percent more efficient than conventional natural gas generation.[15]

Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center[edit]

FPL demolished its 1960s-era units at its Port Everglades Power Plant to make way for a new, state-of-the-art, high-technology Next Generation Clean Energy Center that will begin serving customers in 2016.[17]

Natural gas pipeline projects[edit]

To further meet the growing electricity needs of the state’s residents and businesses, FPL issued a request-for-proposals (RFP) in December 2012 for new natural gas transportation infrastructure into and within Florida. After the evaluation process, FPL awarded the projects to two firms – Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC and Florida Southeast Connection, LLC. The two projects are expected to be completed and begin delivering natural gas to FPL's system in May 2017, and FPL will purchase approximately 400 million cubic feet per day beginning in 2017, and will increase to about 600 million cubic feet per day in 2020.[18]

Sabal Trail Transmission[edit]

Sabal Trail Transmission, a joint venture of Spectra Energy Corp. and NextEra Energy, Inc., will include nearly 500 miles of interstate natural gas pipeline that will originate in southwestern Alabama and transport natural gas to Georgia and Florida. It will terminate at a new Central Florida Hub south of Orlando, Florida, where it will interconnect with the two existing natural gas pipelines that currently serve central and southern Florida. The Sabal Trail pipeline will be capable of transporting more than 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to serve local distribution companies, industrial users and natural gas-fired power generators in the Southeast U.S.[19]

Florida Southeast Connection[edit]

Florida Southeast Connection, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy. To connect with FPL’s operations, Florida Southeast Connection will construct a separate, 126-mile pipeline from Sabal Trail’s Central Florida Hub to FPL’s Martin Clean Energy Center in Indiantown, Florida.[20]

Nuclear plants[edit]

FPL has two nuclear power plants – the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant in St. Lucie, Florida (Hutchinson Island) and Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station 2 miles east of Homestead, Florida and 25 miles south of Miami, Florida. Combined these two plants produce more than 3,000 megawatts of energy. They generate approximately 12 percent of the state's electricity and operate at or above the industry average for reliable performance. They produce 98 percent of Florida's electricity generated by sources that do not emit greenhouse gases, but require vasts amounts of water for cooling.[21]

Regulatory compliance[edit]

FPL's nuclear power plants aid in their compliance with the Clean Air Act, as these plants produce no greenhouse gases or emissions associated with acid rain or urban smog.[22] FPL also monitors the environment around each plant to ensure public health and safety. The following actions are taken at each site:

  • FPL samples air, water, vegetation, sediments, fish and invertebrates to ensure strict adherence to government standards
  • Independent state agencies also monitor the environment surrounding the plants
  • Water released from FPL's nuclear power plants is continuously checked to ensure it meets regulatory standards for temperature designed to protect aquatic life[23]

Economic impact[edit]

Florida's economy benefits by more than $1.4 billion annually from the daily electricity production at Florida Power & Light Co.'s nuclear energy facilities, a 2015 study by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) shows. Findings from NEI study:

  • FPL nuclear plants support higher-than-average wages: Both the Turkey Point and St. Lucie facilities directly employ approximately 700 full-time workers. Because they are technical in nature, these jobs are typically higher-paying than many others in the region. For example, employees at these nuclear power plants earn more than double the average amount of other workers in their respective counties.[21]
  • FPL's nuclear energy operations create a significant economic "ripple effect": Electricity production at the St. Lucie and Turkey Point nuclear plants stimulates a combined $1.2 billion of economic activity locally and contributes approximately $1.4 billion to Florida's economy each year. The study found that for every dollar FPL spends at these facilities, the Florida economy produces $1.50. In addition, FPL nuclear operations contribute $70 million in local and state taxes. More than 5,800 direct and secondary jobs in Florida are supported by FPL's nuclear energy operations.[21]

Expansion[edit]

An expansion to the Turkey Point power station has been approved by the sate and is scheduled to begin in 2017.[24] The expansion will add two additional reactors to the plant which already has two nuclear reactors, two gas fired units and an oil fired unit.[25] It will generate enough power for 750,000 homes and will account for the growing population in Florida.

Solar power plants[edit]

Existing plants[edit]

FPL currently has three plants in Florida generating 110 megawatts of solar energy to its customers, accounting for about .06% of its total energy production.[26]

  • FPL opened its Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center in 2010 – a $476 million, 75 MW(peak) parabolic trough array on 500 acres (200 ha) of the Martin County, Florida plant. The solar collectors feed heat to the existing steam plant, reducing the need for gas – which powers the plant during the evening.[27] The energy from the solar array generates power at a rate of 155,000 MWh per year.[28]
  • Also in 2010, FPL teamed up with NASA to build the Space Coast Solar Energy Center at the Kennedy Space Center[29] which provided both America's space program and Florida residents with emission-free, clean energy. The joint venture completed the 10-megawatt photovoltaic power generation system,[30] which feeds about 18,500 MWh of electricity into Florida's electric grid each year – and prevents the emission of about 13,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.[31]
  • The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in DeSoto County, Florida, was the state’s first-ever solar energy center.[32] The facility’s more than 90,000 solar panels produces roughly 52,000 MWh of electricity yearly – which is enough to power about 3,000 homes.

New plants[edit]

Currently, solar power – even the most economical large-scale installation – is generally not yet cost-effective in FPL's service area, due in part to its higher costs compared to the company's efficient system and lower electric rates. However, FPL has three sites that will each facilitate the cost-effective development of a new, large-scale solar plant. By the end of 2016, these plants in addition to several smaller community-based installations, will add more than 225 new megawatts of solar-generated power – approximately 74 MW from each plant, equivalent to roughly 45,000 typical residential rooftop systems.[33] These new plants are being designed to complement FPL’s other major system improvements.[34]

  • FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center – DeSoto County, near Florida's first large-scale solar plant, which FPL commissioned in 2009[35]
  • FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center – Charlotte County, Florida in coordination with and with the support of the county and the Babcock Ranch community[35]
  • FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center – Manatee County, Florida on the site of an existing fuel-efficient natural gas power plant that FPL operates[35]

As the cost of solar PV is projected to decline further later in the decade, FPL is looking to add even more solar energy generation to complement its natural gas and nuclear resources to meet the electricity needs of Florida's growing economy and population.[34]

Impact of these plants[edit]

The new solar plants will triple FPL's current solar capacity to approximately 335 megawatts – and effectively double Florida’s total statewide solar capacity.[36] In comparison, approximately 30 megawatts of distributed solar installed by customers in FPL territory. Also, these projects will bring new tax revenue and several hundred new jobs to rural communities and deliver emissions-free power when the sun is shining to customers across the state.[33]

Solar for Schools[edit]

FPL has installed solar arrays at more than 100 schools and non-profit educational centers across Florida.[37]

FPL SolarNow Program[edit]

Residents, businesses, local organizations and FPL partner to build solar projects that provide shade and generate clean, emissions-free solar energy in local public areas like community parks, zoos, recreation areas and museums. SolarNow is a unique, PSC-approved program open to all FPL customers, whether or not they have the ability to have solar at their home or business, on a completely voluntary basis.[38] FPL customers can opt in to contribute $9 a month directly toward new solar installations in local communities,[39] however, the program is designed to not increase electric rates for those customers who do not choose to participate.[40]

NextEra Energy Next Generation Living Lab[edit]

The NextEra Energy Next Generation Living Lab located at FPL headquarters in Juno Beach, Florida, consists of rooftop solar installations that feature several different technologies in addition to two solar PV parking structures that provide 40 spaces of covered parking to employees with hybrid or electric vehicles. The Living Lab enables FPL to expand its solar power technology research to address three challenges of the energy sector:

  • Improving the economic viability of clean-energy expansions;
  • Increasing the output of next-generation renewable technologies; and
  • Enhancing the efficiency and storage capabilities of the electric grid.[41]

Smart grid and meters[edit]

FPL completed the installation 4.7 million smart meters to residential and small business customers and continued the development of smart grid devices to build a more reliable and efficient electric infrastructure.[42]

Enhancements[edit]

By enhancing its Energy Dashboard, which customers accessed more than 3 million times in 2014, FPL enables customers served with smart meters to monitor their energy use by the hour, day and month, dramatically expanding their ability to manage their energy usage. FPL customers with a time-of-use rate were also provided enhanced Energy Dashboard features allowing them to see their energy usage during peak and off-peak hours.[43]

Other enhancements to the Energy Dashboard included a new video message for business customers and a more accurate bill projection calculation tool.[42]

Impact on the environment[edit]

FPL is one of the cleanest electric utilities in the nation.[44] With more than 90 percent of its power generation coming from natural gas, nuclear and solar, their power plants have a carbon dioxide emissions rate that is 35 percent cleaner than the national average.[44] Also, FPL has pledged to protect public health and safety, to avoid negative impacts on the environment, Florida’s animals and their habitat. FPL, along with their parent company NextEra Energy, supports a broad range of local ecology programs, including wetlands recovery, tree planting, park and trail maintenance, and recycling.[45]

Wildlife Programs[edit]

American crocodiles[edit]

In the 168 miles of cooling water canals surrounding the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant, the American crocodile has made a five-fold increase in the species’ population since the 1970s.[46] FPL partners with federal and state conservation agencies to help with crocodile restoration efforts. FPL has obeyed the laws to protect the endangered species – and as a result the American crocodile has since been removed from the endangered species list to the threatened species list.[46] At its Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, the company has worked to preserve and create habitats for crocodile nesting and basking, conduct surveys to document the population, and construct ponds to help provide sanctuary to hatchlings – along with endangered loggerhead turtles and manatees.[46]

Birds[edit]

FPL has been a leader in the protection of bald eagles, along with other protected birds for nearly three decades. Fewer than 100 nesting sites existed in Florida when the bald eagle population was first surveyed in 1973, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). By 2014, the number of nests increased to 1,450 – 900 of which are found in counties served by FPL.[47]

In 2013, as part of FPL’s installation of new, more storm-resilient power lines in Manatee County, Florida, the company preserved nests and provided additional nesting options for the threatened Southeastern American kestrel.

The company also provides nesting platforms for osprey in order to avoid their nests being built on power line structures, which could affect customers’ electric service.

The company’s Avian Protection Plan provides employees with an overview for protecting birds that is consistent with industry and federal guidelines.[47]

Manatees[edit]

FPL supports manatee research and conducts tagging exercises and aerial surveys at its facilities to help assess the health of manatee herds. The company will build a manatee education center at its Riviera Beach Energy Center, where herds warm themselves in the plant’s outflow during cooler months.[48][49]

Turtles[edit]

FPL’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program has been dedicated to protecting this endangered species for the past 30 years and its team of biologists research and help to rehabilitate sea turtles that have been injured by boats or other marine wildlife.[50] FPL also works with many coastal communities to restrict or prohibit beachfront lighting during sea turtle nesting season. When sea turtles hatch, they orient themselves toward the ocean by looking for the brightest horizon — an important survival instinct that is threatened by artificial lighting on homes and businesses near nesting beaches.[51] To further increase awareness, the company conducts “Turtle Walks,” which takes small groups guided tours of the beach near the St. Lucie nuclear plant during the turtles’ egg-laying season.[52]

Criticisms[edit]

On June 6, 2007, the state of Florida rejected FPL's proposal to build a coal-burning power plant on 5,000 acres (20 km2) in Moore Haven, Florida, near the western edge of Lake Okeechobee, citing concerns that it would emit toxic mercury into the lake and also harm the Everglades. FPL stated that the decision could result in higher electricity rates for customers.

On August 13, 2007, FPL workers at the company's St. Lucie Nuclear plant in Florida discovered a leak in one of the facility's condensation pumps. The plant was ordered to reduce its power output until repairs were made.[53]

Beginning on January 5, 2009, 30 environmental activists staged a five-day vigil along the Barley Barber Swamp, a 440-acre (1.8 km2) old growth cypress forest owned by Florida Power & Light, to draw attention to what they claimed were damages being wrought by the power company's 3,750 megawatt Martin County plant. The activists claim that the Martin County power plant is drawing water from the aquifer below the swamp causing the soil to subside below the root systems of the trees. They also claim that the swamp exhibits several trees aged over 1,000 years, making them the oldest in Florida. On January 10 seventeen of the activists were arrested for trespassing. Florida Power & Light has since stated that the company will reopen the Barley Barber Swamp by 2010.[54]

Operations[edit]

Rates[edit]

FPL's 2014 average bill for 1,000 kWh of monthly residential usage was the lowest among reporting electric utilities. And a rate reduction was announced that would cut monthly bills for an average customer by roughly $3 by May 2015 – making an average bill approximately 30 percent lower than U.S. average. In fact, FPL's typical bill has been the lowest in Florida for more than five years in a row.[55]

Service uptime[edit]

  • After Hurricane Wilma, FPL reported that about 3 million customers were without power in the South Florida area. About 18 days later, FPL restored the majority of power in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties – and has since about $800 million to beef up the grid.[56]
  • On February 26, 2008, a power outage occurred after eight power plants went off-line in the region which affected approximately 600,000 to 800,000 Florida residents.[57]
  • For a span of six years (2007–2012), FPL's average annual SAIDI, which represents the number of minutes the average customer is without power during a time period, was the best of the investor-owned utilities in Florida.[1][58]

Storm preparedness[edit]

Since the 2005 storm season, when hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma hit, FPL has invested more than $2 billion to strengthen the electric grid against severe weather, including inspecting more than 1.2 million power poles, and strengthening the poles and wires that serve critical facilities in its service areas. The company also has installed 4.7 million smart meters and thousands of intelligent devices to reduce the number of outages and restore service faster when outages do occur. FPL’s employees each have emergency response roles in addition to their regular jobs. They prepare year-round for severe weather incidents, and train during the company's annual storm drill and other simulated emergency activities.[59]

Specific storm preparedness initiatives[edit]

  • Vegetation Trim Cycles
  • Joint Use Pole Audits
  • Six-year Transmission System Poles/Structures Inspection Cycle
  • Hardening the Transmission System
  • Distribution Geographic Information System - includes developing a post-hurricane forensic analysis tool and the addition of poles, streetlights, joint use survey and hardening level data to the system
  • Post-Storm Forensic Collection/Analysis
  • Overhead and Underground Storm Performance
  • Increased Coordination with Local Governments
  • Collaborative Research on Hurricanes/Storm Surge
  • Natural Disaster Preparedness/Recovery Plans[60]

Clean energy[edit]

FPL's power plant fleet has a carbon dioxide emissions rate that is 35 percent cleaner than the national average.[61]

Safety[edit]

FPL and its employees have built a culture of safety that strives to achieve zero injuries — a commitment that has helped the company meet and exceed stringent U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.[62]

Honors and criticism[edit]

Industry recognition and awards:

  • The company was recognized in 2014 as the most trusted U.S. electric utility by Market Strategies International [63]
  • Winner of the 2014 ReliabilityOne award for the south region and the Technology & Innovation award, both from the PA Consulting Group.[64]
  • Earned the national ServiceOne Award for outstanding customer service for an 10 consecutive years [65]
  • Was the first American company to win the prestigious Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) Deming Prize – Only two American companies have ever won.[3]

The expansion of Turkey Point Nuclear facility has received criticism from some South Florida mayors over concerns about high water usage, insufficient evacuation zones and increased risks from rising sea levels.[24][66]

Along with other state utilities, FPL has been criticized for using its influence with state politicians and political organizations to reject laws which would make it easier for home and business owners to adopt rooftop solar.[67] According to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, several of the top utility companies in Florida, including FPL, have contributed over $12 million towards the election campaigns of state lawmakers since 2010.[68]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  67. ^ Pentland, William. "Solar Alliance In Sunshine State May Be Bad News For Jeb Bush". Retrieved 2015-06-16. 
  68. ^ "In Sunshine State, Big Energy Blocks Solar Power". Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Retrieved 2015-06-16. 

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