Florida sees fewer manatee starvation deaths as feeding ends
The effort to feed thousands of pounds of lettuce to starving manatees in Florida has officially ended for the winter season, as deaths of the marine mammals appear to be slowing despite the long-term threat of pollution to their main food source, seagrass.
Florida congresswoman calls for federal probe into FPL
A U.S. congresswoman is asking the Department of Justice to investigate Florida Power & Light over claims that the utility used “dark money” to disguise sources of political funding and sway elections in Florida, as well as other allegations documented in recent news reports.
FPL files proposal to hike base rate
The proposal calls for a $1.1 billion increase in base-rate revenues in 2022 and a $607 million increase in 2023. Utilities typically use a benchmark of residential customers who use 1,000-kilowatt hours of electricity a month, though actual usage varies widely. Utilities typically use a benchmark of residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month, though actual usage varies widely. AdSuch Northwest Florida residential customers, meanwhile, would see their bills go from $132.41 in January 2021 to $133.21 in January 2022, the projections show. Base-rate cases are among the most closely watched issues at the Public Service Commission, as they involve large amounts of money and extensive financial and technical details.
State regulators back FPL’s plan to help small businesses with electric bills
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State regulators Tuesday approved a Florida Power & Light pilot program aimed at adding electric-vehicle charging stations, while also signing off on an FPL plan that will offer help with electric bills to some small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The approval by the Florida Public Service Commission of the pilot program comes as the number of electric vehicles on the state’s roads increases. Regulators needed to approve pricing-related issues, including FPL being able to charge 30 cents per kilowatt hour for motorists who charge vehicles at utility-owned sites. Also Tuesday, the commission approved an FPL plan that will provide 10 percent credits on the energy charge portion of monthly electric bills for some small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, which will cost up to $16 million, would apply to small businesses that meet certain criteria, including a limit on monthly electricity usage.
State of emergency declared as Tropical Storm Eta looms
TALLAHASSEE – A state of emergency was declared Saturday by Gov. Ron DeSantis for eight southern Florida counties because of a growing threat from Tropical Storm Eta, which also could affect northern parts of the state later in the week. DeSantis issued an executive order that declared the state of emergency in Broward, Collier, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties, as Eta was moving away from the Cayman Islands and toward central Cuba. DeSantis' order directed Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz to coordinate the state’s emergency plans and to seek federal assistance as needed. Also, to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, the order said the state will activate agreements with hotels for non-congregate sheltering.
Florida Power & Light electric bills will be going up in January
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Customers of Florida Power & Light and Gulf Power will see slightly higher electric bills in January, after the state Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved a series of costs that will be passed along by the utilities. Gulf residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours a month will see their bills inch up from $140.43 to $140.62. The Public Service Commission held a hearing Tuesday on projected utility costs for such things as power-plant fuel. Tampa Electric Co. announced Tuesday that its residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month will see bills go from $97.69 to $105.25 in January. Also Wednesday, the Public Service Commission said customers of Florida Public Utilities Co. will see reductions in their bills in January.
Consultant challenges subpoenas in JEA investigation
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of Mayor Lenny Curry’s former campaign advisors is taking aim at the Jacksonville City Council committee looking into the aborted sale of JEA. Baker recently answered some questions about his involvement but refused to discuss his work as a consultant for FPL, saying that information is privileged. In an email, Bishop called the subpoena unlawful and said his client objects because the information the committee seeks is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. “The City Council should either withdraw or decline to enforce these patently unlawful and invalid subpoenas. If the City proceeds with enforcement of these subpoenas, Mr. Baker will be left with no choice but to seek protection from this unconstitutional intrusion in the courts,” Bishop wrote.
FPL proposes pandemic aid for small businesses
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Power & Light has asked state regulators to approve a proposal that would offer bill credits to certain small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal, filed Thursday at the state Public Service Commission, would provide 10 percent credits on energy charges and could take effect in December. It would be available to new small businesses, small businesses that resume operations after being inactive for six months and small businesses located in what are known as “Opportunity Zones” under federal law. Those zones generally are in economically distressed areas. But with utilities resuming disconnections in recent weeks, the Public Service Commission this month rejected a proposal that would have halted many electricity shut-offs for at least 90 days.
Florida utility crews to help in storm aftermath
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With Hurricane Delta expected to make landfall Friday in Louisiana, utility crews from Florida will help restore electricity after the storm. Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida and 10 Florida municipal utilities will have crews in Louisiana, utility officials said Thursday. The municipal utilities are Beaches Energy Services in Jacksonville Beach, JEA, Gainesville Regional Utilities, City of Tallahassee Electric Utility, Lakeland Electric, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Orlando Utilities Commission, Fort Pierce Utilities Authority, City of Homestead Electric Utility and Keys Energy Services, according to the Florida Municipal Electric Association. Florida utilities also have sent crews to help with power-restoration after other storms this year, such as Hurricane Laura, which hit Louisiana. “We know how critical it is to get assistance from other utilities after a hurricane and to pre-position crews ahead of time,” Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO, said in a prepared statement.
Regulators back FPL plan to speed up refunds
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The state Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved a plan by Florida Power & Light to speed up refunds of deposits for tens of thousands of customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. FPL announced the plan last month as part of steps that also included providing bill credits of up to $200 to some residential and small-business customers. FPL said in its filing that the move to speed up refunds of deposits would return $9 million to $11 million to 50,000 to 60,000 residential customers. Ordinarily, deposits are refunded after 23 months to customers with good payment records. The plan is a one-time move that will shorten the period to 12 months.
Florida governor’s order on evictions, foreclosures expires
Ron DeSantis on Wednesday let expire an executive order aimed at limiting evictions and foreclosures. DeSantis on Aug. 31 approved a one-month extension of an order to prevent foreclosures and evictions involving residents “adversely” affected by COVID-19. That order made clear foreclosures and evictions could move forward in circumstances unrelated to the pandemic, such as for non-payment of rent. “(DeSantis') Executive Order 20-211 had provided a limited, one-month extension of state eviction relief to persons affected by the COVID-19 emergency. Florida Power & Light plans to resume cutoffs this month for those who have fallen behind on their bill.
FP&L imposter scam targets Flagler County customers
PALM COAST, Fla. – The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is sounding the alarm about a new scam going around that’s targeting Florida Power & Light customers. Once they’ve delivered that warning, the scammers are then telling victims to pay their bills over the phone using prepaid debit cards, gift cards or some other means, the agency said. In reality, FPL does not ask customers to purchase prepaid cards or visit third-party websites to settle their outstanding balances. “A lot has changed in 2020 but unfortunately, the scammers are still up to their old tricks,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. Do not be an easy target.”To learn more about utility fraud and how you can avoid becoming a victim, visit the Utilities United website.
Florida Power & Light aid as disconnections loom
Florida Power & Light said Friday it will offer aid to customers who are behind on their electric bills, as the company prepares to begin disconnections that have been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic. FPL said, in part, it will provide bill credits of up to $200 to some residential and small-business customers. The utility plans to write off the credit amounts as bad debt. Separately, FPL plans to speed up refunds of customer deposits. The moves come as FPL plans to resume the disconnections of some customers in October.
FP&L parent would have paid $11 billion for JEA
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The parent of Florida Power & Light would have paid more than $11 billion for JEA had the city-owned utilitys leadership gone through with a scuttled effort to put the utility up for sale. The bonuses executives were going to get were based on false information provided to the board, Diamond said. I dont think the JEA board knew at the time what they were voting on. Instead, the City Council, Civic Council and Unions hijacked the conversation for their own personal benefit. The disparaging and defamatory political rhetoric towards me by JEA, OGC, JEAs counsel and City Council is transparent scapegoating to everyone.
Florida, Georgia utilities ready to help Gulf Coast in aftermath of storms
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Power & Light, JEA and Georgia Power crews all know what it’s like to deal with the wake of a hurricane or tropical storm. As Louisiana and Texas grapple with the aftermath of both, crews from the utilities are heading west to help their Gulf Coast counterparts. Crews from JEA left Jacksonville on Wednesday afternoon to answer a mutual aid request from Lafayette, Louisiana. The FPL crews left Tuesday morning from West Palm Beach and arrived Wednesday. Right now, 900+ FPL personnel are on their way to assist in #Marco & #Laura restoration.
FPL: Solar projects bringing clean energy & jobs to Northeast Florida
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. Construction is underway on five new solar projects across Northeast Florida. These projects are expected to bring not only clean energy but jobs at a time when unemployment has hit record highs during the pandemic. The solar projects are part of the power companys 30-by-30 plan to install 30 million solar panels in Florida by 2030. Construction of the solar projects in Northeast Florida is expected to wrap up by the end of the year. Getting these projects underway during the COVID-19 pandemic has created some unique challenges.
JEA ready to respond to possible outages
Currently, all areas of JEA are prepared to respond to utility service outages should they occur, no matter how the storm’s forecast track may change. JEA anticipates that portions of its service area, especially coastal communities, may experience scattered outages. Text “REG” to MyJEA (69532) to register for the service using the mobile phone number associated with the JEA account. JEA crews will continue to employ COVID-19 safety measures while working in the field, including wearing masks, social distancing and limiting numbers of workers in spaces. Customers may experience slightly longer-than-normal restoration times as JEA crews apply this extra layer of safety to their work.
FPL still suspending disconnections, waiving late fees
As some Northeast Florida utilities have resumed disconnections for unpaid accounts, Florida Power & Light sent a reminder Thursday that it is still suspending disconnections for customers who are behind on bills. But the utility said those who need help catching up need to contact FPL as soon as possible. FPL says most customers who are behind on their bill have not contacted the company for help. FPL said in addition to not disconnecting accounts, it will continue to waive late fees and offer payment plans. While we never want to turn the lights off for nonpayment especially during these difficult times we remain mindful that unpaid electric bills are ultimately paid for by all FPL customers, the utility said.
JEA cuts deal to shutter Georgia coal-fired power plant
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA’s Board of Directors on Friday signed off on a plan to close a coal-fired power plant in Georgia as part of an effort to shift to cleaner sources of energy. The city-owned utility and Florida Power & Light have jointly owned Plant Scherer, Unit 4, an 848-megawatt plant in Macon operated by the Georgia Power Company, since 1989. Also Friday, JEA committed to a 20-year power purchase agreement with FPL, which is meant to lower the utility’s operating costs and lower carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 1.3 million tons a year. As News4Jax previously reported, JEA remains on the hook for a financial commitment of nearly $3 billion for Plant Vogtle, a power plant located in Waynesboro, Georgia, that remains under construction. The utility tried unsuccessfully to back out of the 20-year power purchase agreement as the project has fallen behind schedule and costs have skyrocketed.
Curry responds to city subpoena in JEA investigation
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry on Monday responded to the latest information released on the investigation into the scuttled attempt to sell JEA. NextEra, which is the parent company of Florida Power & Light, handed over the information after getting a subpoena from a special Jacksonville City Council committee investigating the negotiations. Also on the list of those who worked on the negotiations was Bold City Strategic Partners, run by Tim Baker. The special City Council committee investigating JEA is due to meet Tuesday, May 26. A federal grand jury has also issued a subpoena for records related to the attempted sale of the city-owned utility.
I-TEAM: Did Curry’s allies help effort to sell JEA?
SPECIAL SECTION: Tracking the JEA sagaIn its response, the company identified 13 companies including Mousa Consulting Group, a firm led by Sam Mousa, the city’s former chief administrative officer. Baker, who has consulted for Curry, ran the firm with Brian Hughes, Mousa’s replacement as chief administrative officer, up until 2017. He also said the firm did not have any contracts with FP&L while Hughes was still on board. Fallout from the doomed sale included the dismissals of then-CEO Aaron Zahn, CFO Ryan Wannemacher and several other high-level JEA executives. “I have long believed and publicly stated there was a strategic and concerted effort by Lenny Curry to sell JEA,” Dennis said.
Dispute over FPL tax cuts, Hurricane Irma costs dismissed
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, has dismissed a challenge to a Florida Power & Light plan to use federal tax savings to cover costs of restoring electricity after 2017's Hurricane Irma. The appeal came after the state Public Service Commission signed off on the FPL plan. The dispute stemmed from damage caused by Hurricane Irma, which forced FPL to spend about $1.3 billion to restore electricity and rebuild systems. The utility decided to tap a reserve to cover Irma restoration costs and then replenish the reserve with savings from the tax overhaul, avoiding the need to tack extra charges onto consumers' bills. The Public Service Commission, however, pointed to a 2017 base-rate settlement agreement that included the reserve to help FPL manage fluctuations in costs and revenues.
16 bids to purchase JEA opened under shroud of secrecy
The sealed bids were due Monday morning and were opened at 2 p.m. amid a shroud of secrecy. JEA's staff isn't talking and City Council members have been advised to keep mum. "Rest assured, if and when a recapitalization event is presented to the Jacksonville City Council, we will ensure public participation," he said. Wilson said at that time, council members would be able to ask questions about the sale. The City Council is also looking to hire an outside attorney to advise it on the matter and council members will meet Tuesday.
Underground power lines plan moves forward
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - State regulators moved forward Thursday with a new law aimed at building more underground power lines and making Florida's electric system better able to withstand punishing hurricanes. A key part of the law, passed during the spring legislative session, will change how storm-protection projects, including underground power lines, are financed. Public Service Commission Chairman Art Graham issued a statement after Thursday's approval of the proposed rules and said they will help electric systems better handle severe storms. The law applies to Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Co., Gulf Power and Florida Public Utilities Co."Utilities' investment in storm hardening strengthens Florida's grid to reduce power outages and speed restoration after a storm," Graham said. Under the law, utilities will be able each year to seek approval from the commission to collect money from customers for storm-protection projects, such as building underground power lines.
More underground power lines considered for Florida
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - State regulators next week will take up proposed rules that could help set the stage for an expansion of underground power lines in hurricane-weary Florida. Utilities already have underground power lines in some areas. Generally, utilities such as Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Co. and Gulf Power have incorporated storm-hardening costs in their base electric rates, which are set for multiple years. But the new law sets up a separate commission process that allows utilities each year to seek to collect money from customers for storm-protection projects, such as building underground power lines. On another key issue, however, the commission staff members disagreed with the utilities.
Florida shipping water to Bahamas
In this USCG handout image, views of the Bahamas from a Coast Guard Elizabeth City C-130 aircraft after Hurricane Dorian shifts north Sept. 3, 2019. TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After being largely spared by Hurricane Dorian, Florida and the state's largest electric utility are sending more than a half-million bottles of water to storm-ravaged parts of the Bahamas. Together with Governor @RonDeSantisFL and the state of Florida, we stand ready to help our neighbors in the Bahamas by donating nine truckloads of water. #BahamasStrong pic.twitter.com/JEN1T1AVpK FPL (@insideFPL) September 10, 2019In advance of Dorian, Florida deployed 860,000 bottles of water and 1.8 million meals to counties that faced threats from the storm, and another 819,000 gallons of water were ready for distribution. Still, DeSantis and Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said the state likely will make other contributions along with donating the water.
Thousands of utility workers ready to respond during Hurricane Dorian
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Lengthy and widespread power outages are in the forecast after Hurricane Dorian impacts Florida. Thousands of workers from companies like Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy Florida, as well as some out-of-state companies, are positioned to respond to potential widespread outages. Over 18,000 men and women from various power companies across the country are in Lake City preparing for Hurricane Dorian. "There will be power outages from the storm," Silagy said after giving Gov. It has secured about 16,000 employees and workers from other companies, "with plans for thousands more" for the anticipated restoration effort, Silagy said.
Power companies prepare before, during, after storm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - While Hurricane Dorian sets its sights on Florida, power companies across the state are getting ready to put their storm plans into action. Once the storm passes and it's safe for crews to head out, they'll begin the first phase of the power restoration process. In the second phase, crews target the source of large-scale outages and then move onto the third phase, which entails isolated outages. Should a boil water advisory be issued and you're without power, you can purify your water using bleach. Some of those were restored within a couple of days, (for) others it took 10 days, so every storm is different.
Justices grapple with utility ballot measure
The Supreme Court reviews ballot initiatives to make sure the proposed wording is not misleading and meets other legal tests. Also, justices questioned part of the summary that says utility customers would have the "right to choose their electricity provider." The high stakes involved in the issue were apparent Wednesday as the Supreme Court was packed with lawyers, utility officials and representatives of numerous groups watching the arguments. The Supreme Court plays a gatekeeper role in deciding whether citizens' initiatives go before voters. It is unclear when the Supreme Court will rule on the utility measure.
Florida Power & Light CEO considering bid to purchase JEA
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - City leaders might be tight-lipped about privatizing JEA, but already one potential suitor has emerged. Florida Power & Light, the states largest utility company, is not ruling out a bid to buy the publicly-owned utility, FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy told the Jacksonville Daily Record on Friday. Were going through the qualifications, Silagy said after speaking at a St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Read the complete story on the Daily Record. Jacksonville Daily Record
Utility energy efficiency goals debated
The utilities involved in the hearing are Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Co., Gulf Power, Florida Public Utilities Company, Orlando Utilities Commission and JEA, the municipal utility in Jacksonville. Were looking at this from an energy efficiency being done the right way and being done efficiently, Orlove said. I think setting zero goals, I dont think is the right way to go. We have some ratepayers that are in favor of more energy efficiency. We have some that are not in favor of more energy efficiency, Kelly said.
American crocodiles thriving outside nuclear plant
MIAMI, Fla. - American crocodiles, once headed toward extinction, are thriving at an unusual spot - the canals surrounding a South Florida nuclear plant. Last week, 73 crocodile hatchlings were rescued by a team of specialists at Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point nuclear plant and dozens more are expected to emerge soon. Because of rising sea levels wasting nests along the coasts, Turkey Point is important for crocodiles to continue." The canals are one of three major US habitats for crocodiles, where 25% of the 2,000 American crocodiles live. The FPL team has been credited for moving the classification of crocodiles on the Endangered Species Act to "threatened" from "endangered" in 2007.
Utility company offers 3 tips to help protect customers from scammers
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Scammers are targeting utility company customers across Florida using sophisticated tactics to pocket quick cash, Florida Power & Light warned Wednesday. According to FPL, scammers are impersonating utility workers, which is creating a threat to families and businesses. FPL shared the following three tips to help customers protect themselves:If you get a suspicious call, hang up. FPL will never demand immediate payment with only a prepaid card or wire transfer to avoid service disconnection. Visit FPL.com/protect for more information on how to protect yourself from scams, fraud and imposters.
Regulators to hold hearing on FPL solar plan
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After receiving a request from the state Office of Public Counsel, regulators will hold a full hearing in October on a major solar-energy proposal by Florida Power & Light. The state Public Service Commission posted an order Friday that said an administrative hearing will be held Oct. 15 and Oct. 16 on FPLs proposed SolarTogether program. Public Service Commission staff members were expected to issue a recommendation July 25 about whether the commission should approve the proposal. But the Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers on utility issues, filed a request last month for the commission to hold a full administrative hearing before deciding whether to give approval. But Public Service Commission member Gary Clark, who is serving as a prehearing officer on the proposal, issued an order Friday that included the dates for the administrative hearing and detailed procedural deadlines.
FPL objects to hearing request on solar program
The Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, filed a request last month asking for a detailed hearing before the Public Service Commission decides whether to approve FPLs proposed SolarTogether program. FPL on Wednesday filed a nine-page document arguing that an administrative hearing at this point is unnecessary. It said, in part, the Office of Public Counsel could request a hearing in the future if it objects to the commissions decision on the SolarTogether proposal. First, it is premature for OPC (the Office of Public Counsel) to conclude that its concerns will not be addressed, the document filed Wednesday said. It is possible that, based on the PSCs (Public Service Commissions) decision, no hearing will be desired or necessary.
Hearing sought on major FPL solar plan
The Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, filed a request Tuesday for the Public Service Commission to hold a hearing on FPLs SolarTogether plan. The request said commission staff members are slated to make a recommendation July 25 about FPLs plan but that a full administrative hearing should be held. The filing said FPL projects long-term savings of $139 million because the increased use of solar would allow it to avoid costs related to natural-gas or other types of power plants. The company has developed FPL SolarTogether as a cost-effective opportunity for customers to directly support the expansion of solar power without the need to install solar on their rooftop, the filing said. Through FPL SolarTogether, customers will have the option to subscribe to kilowatts of solar capacity from dedicated cost-effective 74.5-megawatt solar power plants built for this program.
JEA-FPL-owned power plant to be decommissioned
JEA and Florida Power & Light have agreed to terms to decommission the St. Johns River Power Park, the large, coal-fired generating plant located off Heckscher Drive in early 2018. The plant is jointly owned by the two utilities. Retirement of the facility will result in significant annual cost savings that can be directed to debt reduction and important capital projects that will benefit JEA’s customers. JEA’s carbon footprint will be decreased by 30 percent and its nitrogen to the St. Johns River reduced as a result of plant retirement. "This agreement is important for JEA and will allow us to right-size our power generation capabilities while offering, significant environmental benefits to the community,” said JEA CEO Paul McElroy.