A win for Florida ratepayers as Florida Power & Light withdraws extreme proposal
As we weather a season of some devastating climate losses, it’s more important than ever to relish the victories – and we saw a big one in Florida last week when Florida Power & Light (FPL) withdrew a controversial proposal in its ten-year site plan.
What does this mean?
Ten-year site plans are Florida’s version of what other states often refer to as an “integrated resource plan” or “IRP.” Essentially, it serves as a roadmap for a utility’s energy needs and proposed power plant locations, and is subject to approval or rejection by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC).
Last Monday evening, after significant public pressure and before the PSC could open a formal hearing process, we learned that FPL filed to voluntarily withdraw the section of its plan focused on surges for electricity demand in winter.
Why is it important?
When FPL filed its site plan in April, it immediately drew criticism from clean energy, utility justice, and consumer protection advocates. In the plan, FPL proposed exorbitant upgrades — including 700 megawatts in fossil gas capacity — that would have cost Florida ratepayers upwards of $140 million. It’s justification? An exceedingly rare winter storm that took place in 1989.
In a presentation organized by Vote Solar and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), load forecasting expert Jim Wilson demonstrated that the proposed upgrades were unwarranted and the methodology used to justify them were questionable at best.
It’s clear that the intention of FPL’s extreme winter peak proposal was to increase rates for customers to overbuild its system and pad its own profit margins. FPL’s decision to remove it from consideration is excellent news for hardworking Florida families, who would have been left holding the bill.
This comes off the heels of another major win this spring, when Governor DeSantis vetoed House Bill 741, which would have wreaked havoc on the Sunshine State’s rooftop solar industry. Fending off not one, but two, disastrous utility-backed proposals in such a short amount of time is no small feat. It wouldn’t have been possible without strong, unified coalitions and the many, many Floridians willing to speak up for a ten-year-site plan that serves our best interests. In particular, we’re thankful for the leadership of our longtime partner, SACE, and the PSC staff who were prepared to hold FPL accountable via an evidentiary hearing.
What happens now?
The ten-year site plan will still be reviewed and voted on by the PSC; however, the big difference now is that FPL’s plan is now in line with standard industry practice and no longer reliant on dubious methodology. We anticipate a decision from the PSC this fall. In the meantime, we’ll continue to advocate for a utility planning process that’s transparent, inclusive, and accessible.
For more than twenty years, Vote Solar has been standing up to powerful utilities across the country – and we’re just getting started. We’re ready and eager to continue working toward an equitable renewable energy system that puts people over profits.