FPL pushing FERC to rubberstamp Sabal Trail: time to push back

How about not in February or March for the Sabal Trail FERC permit?

FPL is pushing FERC to rubberstamp Sabal Trail (and FSC and Transco’s Hillabee) by February 1st. Nevermind FERC said when it issued its FEIS that its target for “considering” a permit was March.

Since FERC hasn’t fixed its process as four Georgia Congressmen demanded, how about FERC stop its process until it is fixed? You may also want to ask your members of Congress to ask FERC to do that.

There are no more FERC Commision meetings in January, and none of the other meetings scheduled for January or February are about Sabal Trail, so apparently FERC did not jump when FPL went frog. However, beware that no agenda is yet posted for the Commission meetings of 18 February 2016 or 17 March 2016. The time to head off a FERC permit is now.

Filed with FERC 11 January 2016 as Accession Number 20160111-5226, “Florida Power & Light Company’s Letter in Support of the Southeast Market Pipelines Project under CP14-554, et. al..”:

January 11, 2016

Chairman Norman C. Bay
Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur
Commissioner Tony Clark
Commissioner Colette D. Honorable

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20426

Subject: Southeast Market Pipelines Project
Docket Nos. CP14-554-000, CP15-16-000, and CP15-17-000

Dear Chairman Bay and Commissioners:

I am writing to urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) to grant certificates of public convenience and necessity for the Southeast Market Pipelines Project1 (“SMP Project”) by February 1, 2016. Florida Power & Light Company (“FPL”) is an anchor shipper on the Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC (“STT”) and Florida Southeast Connection, LLC (“FSC”) projects and strongly supports the SMP Project.

1 Collectively, Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC, Florida Southeast Connection, LLC and the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (“Transco”) Hillabee expansion project.

FPL’s investments in fuel-efficient, natural gas-fired power plants are providing clean, reliable power and help keep energy bills low by saving money for customers on fuel costs. FPL has an additional new modern gas-fired power plant at Port Everglades expected to go into service in Summer 2016. As Florida’s population and FPL’s load continues to grow, the capacity utilization of its gas-fired power plants continues to increase. This is still the case notwithstanding FPL’s goal of adding 225 MW of new solar power by the end of 2016, a goal that is currently on track. Beginning in May 2017, the proposed in-service date for the SMP Project, FPL will need an additional 400,000 dth/d of natural gas capacity to meet its peak load. If the SMP Project is not in service by that date, there will be insufficient natural gas capacity to meet the growing electricity needs of Floridians, which means more oil would have to be burned. The result would be considerably increased costs to Florida consumers and substantially increased air emissions. For these reasons, it is critical to FPL that the STT and FSC projects be in-service by May 2017. FPL understands from the applicants that in order to meet this in- service date, the Commission needs to issue a certificate order by February 1, 2016.

Natural gas is the primary source of electric generation in the State of Florida, comprising approximately 68 percent of the electricity generated in Florida. Currently, FPL uses roughly 1.5 to 2 Bcf of natural gas a day to generate power. Looking across the state, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, Florida utilities consumed an average of almost 3 Bcf of natural gas per day in 2014 for a total annual consumption of more than 1 Tcf of natural gas. Florida has no natural gas storage and almost no in-state gas production. In addition, peninsula Florida has only two interstate pipelines, Florida Gas Transmission Company, LLC (“FGT”) and Gulfstream Natural Gas System, LLC (“Gulfstream”) both which are fully or nearly fully subscribed. FPL alone has almost 1.3 Bcf of firm transportation on FGT and almost 700,000 MMcf/d of firm capacity on Gulfstream, or nearly 50 percent of the combined capacity on the two pipelines.

The SMP Project will provide FPL and Florida other important reliability benefits in addition to adding new pipeline capacity. The new pipeline system will expand the state’s access to additional sources of natural gas throughout the U.S. This will help reduce the state’s reliance on offshore sources and lessen its vulnerability to fuel supply interruptions that can occur in the Gulf of Mexico region during severe tropical weather. STT’s use of the Transco lease also provides a substantial public benefit, as FPL and other STT shippers will have direct access to diverse supplies of natural gas in Transco Zone 4 at Station 85.

The SMP Project will also enhance electric reliability. The Commission in recent years has demonstrated a major interest in electric/gas coordination and ensuring electric reliability given the increased reliance on natural gas. A key public benefit of the SMP Project is the new Central Florida Hub. Presently, there is extremely limited ability to flow gas between Gulfstream and FGT. The new Central Florida Hub will allow for all of FPL’s contracted capacity in STT to be delivered into both FGT and Gulfstream and for the same volumes to be delivered between FGT and Gulfstream in central Florida, greatly increasing the reliability of the pipeline system in peninsula Florida in the event of an outage on one of the existing pipelines.

The Commission issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) for the SMP Project on December 18, 2015 that concluded that, with implementation of the applicants’ proposed mitigation and the additional measures recommended in the final EIS, approval of the SMP Project would not have significant adverse environmental impacts. This conclusion is based on an extensive record, including information provided by the applicants, affected landowners, and concerned citizens, and consultations with federal and state regulatory and resource agencies.

In closing, FPL fully supports the SMP Project for the reasons expressed above and urges the Commission to issue final approvals as expeditiously as possible.

/s/ Eric Silagy
President and CEO,
Florida Power & Light Company

Cc: Ann Miles, Director of Office of Energy Projects

While you’re at it, maybe mention to FPL CEO Eric Silagy that his excuses for holding back solar power in Florida are wearing thin. While FPL and Duke are fiddling around with 5 megawatt solar farms, and worrying about clouds like Southern Company used to, SO subsidiary Gulf Power is building 130 MW of solar farms in the Florida panhandle. Duke and FPL should stop wasting that $3 billion on Sabal Trail and use it to build solar farms and offshore wind turbines. Oh, and stop telling county commissions you need natural gas to “modernize” coal plants. We already know how to power Florida (and every other U.S. state) on sun, wind, and water power and nothing else.

Stop the FERC rubberstamp! Let the sun rise.


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