NextEra invests in solar while its subsidiary FPL promotes fracked methane Sabal Trail

Does it seem like FPL is the sucker in these fossil fuel deals by its parent NextEra? While the people of Florida fall far behind even New Jersey and Massachusetts in deploying solar power in the much more populous Sunshine State? You can call your local, state, and federal officials and ask them to stop the fossil fuel boondoggles and get on with solar power.

As we’ve seen, NextEra is unloading its Oklahoma fracking operation onto FPL. “Positive” effects of fracking in Oklahoma have included earthquakes.

Meanwhile, NextEra subsidiary Nextera Energy Resources has solar operations in California, Nevada, New Mexico, and even New Jersey, but not in Florida. NextEra’s Yieldco NextEra Energy Partners (NEP) is even selling off its part of two Texas natural gas power plants, shedding 2,988 MW of dirty gas burning. Sure, NEP is still conflicted, also owning the NET Mexico Pipeline, exporting fracked methane to Mexico. But at least NEP is looking to the sun.

But FPL continues to double down on “natural” gas in Florida, including a $1.3 billion 1,633-megawatt fracked methane power plant just approved by Florida PSC for Okeechobee County, despite objections from Earthjustice.

And other objections. Colleen Wixon, TCPalm, 4 July 2015, FPL’s $1.2 billion power plant in Okeechobee could impact Indian River County,

Construction of a $1.2 billion natural-gas power plant in adjacent Okeechobee County has officials here concerned that it could drain Indian River’s water supply and tax emergency services, yet hopeful that the project could be an economic boon….

Indian River County may require FPL to pay its impact fees for traffic, emergency services and law enforcement, Community Development Director Stan Boling suggested in a March 12 staff memo.

Indian River County has a mutual-aid agreement with Okeechobee for emergency services, but Okeechobee would have sole responsibility for emergencies associated with the plant, Emergency Services Director John King said.

Indian River County staff also has raised questions about the project’s potential to take 9 million gallons of water daily from underground sources, which could impact Indian River’s drinking-water supply and area wetlands, the memo said. FPL environmental specialist Agnes Ramsey last month told the county that the plant’s water use likely would have little impact because it would be from the Upper Floridan Aquifer, about 20 miles from well fields operated by Indian River County Utilities.

That article goes on to promise temporary construction jobs, as if those were any fair trade for sucking up more scarce Florida water to burn more methane, plus the inevitable leaks, and risk of fires and explosions.

Hm, northeast Okeechobee County, right where FPL’s Florida Southeast Connection would pipe fracked methane from Sabal Trail. What a coincidence!

It’s true FPL is finally deploying more solar power in Florida. Clair Aronson, Bradenton Herald, 15 December 2015, Construction on Manatee Solar Energy Center to begin in January,

Construction on Florida Power & Light’s Manatee Solar Energy Center in Parrish is expected to begin in January, a FPL official told commissioners Tuesday.

FPL updated the commission on the planned 74.5-megawatt Parrish facility during the meeting. The Manatee Solar Energy Center will be at 10870 John Corbett Road on 762 acres of FPL-owned property next to the Manatee Power Plant….

By the end of 2016, FPL plans to generate 335 megawatts of solar power at its facilities, which is tripling FPL’s current solar capacity, according to the presentation.

That’s welcome news after FPL added zero new solar capacity for several years.

But compare the numbers: 335 total solar megawatts vs. 1,633 megawatts in that one Okeechobee County fracked methane boondoggle. Even New Jersey, with less than half the population of Florida and much farther north with less sunshine, has already installed 1,524 MW of solar power and in 2014 got 100% of its new electrical capacity from solar power. Even Massachusetts, still farther north, has more than a megawatt of installed solar power, with 308.2 MW added in 2014.

Recently an FPL rep. told the Suwannee County, FL Board of County Commissioners that Florida has too many clouds for solar power. FPL is not serious about solar power. Yet.

How long can FPL hold out, especially now that Southern Company subsidiary Gulf Power is building 120 megawatts of solar power in Florida? What will FPL do once the ballot initiative changes the Florida constitution to facilitate solar financing?

The less ratepayer money FPL wastes on new fracked methane power plants and the Sabal Trail pipeline boondoggle, the faster FPL and Florida will get on with solar power.

Maybe you’d like to contact your local, state, and federal elected and appointed representatives today, and ask them for solar power in Florida, not fossil fuel boondoggles.


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