Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FPL could owe $1.4 billion in fines for 2008 blackout

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) could fine FPL as much as $1.4 billion for some 25 "violations of reliability standards" in the runup to a Feb. 26, 2008 blackout that affected more than 2 million Floridians.

According to a story in the Palm Beach Post:
The maximum penalty for each violation is $1 million a day, and FPL believes FERC could claim that some of the violations started Jan. 1, 2008. That would mean FPL could be liable for violations on as many as 57 days. If fines for 25 charges were levied for all 57 days, FPL could owe as much as $1.4 billion.

The utility has attributed the Feb. 26 blackout to a mistake by a field engineer at a Miami-Dade County substation. Against company policy, the engineer disabled two levels of protection, which allowed a fault to roll across the grid, the company has said.

Read the Post story online, here. Or, read Miami Herald coverage online, here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FPL Group profits jump 82 percent

FPL Group's 2008 profits actually jumped by 82 percent, despite the country being in a recession, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Julie Patel in a blog post today.
Juno Beach-based FPL Group, parent company of Florida Power & Light, reported today that its fourth quarter net income increased from $224 million, or 56 cents a share, in 2007 to $408 million, or $1.01 a share, last year. Its annual profit increased 25 percent, from $1.31 billion to $1.64 billion.
Even so, the Group's Florida unit -- Florida Power & Light -- somehow reported a 13 percent drop in fourth quarter earnings and plans to ask Florida State regulators in March for an increase in its base rates to take effect in 2010, the paper noted.

Read the full Sun-Sentinel blog entry online here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

FPL Rivera plant revamp to hamper Palm Beach reef project

The Palm Beach Post reports today that FP&L's plan to revamp its Rivera Beach power plant "could throw a wrench into Palm Beach County's efforts to create artificial reefs off its coast."

For more than two decades, the county has leased land on the south side of the power plant and used it as a staging area to store rocks and other supplies for artificial reefs.

But FPL has warned the county that construction at the plant could render the site off limits from 2011 to 2015, County Commission Chairman Jeff Koons said.

Read the full Post story online, here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Activists jailed over FPL protest in Barley Barber Swamp

On Saturday, 17 Earth First! activists were arrested for entering the Barley Barber Swamp near Lake Okeechobee to demand the protection of Florida old growth ecosystems against the encroachment of FPL.

Everglades Earth First! has charged that aquifer pumping related to FPL's massive 3750 megaWatt Martin County power plant and adjacent 17-mile-long cooling pond are killing the 1,000-year old Cypress trees in Barley Barber, one of the few remaining old growth cypress swamps in the Southeast.

In a press statement, Earth First! noted that "several of the bald cypress trees in Barley Barber are over a thousand years old. They are the oldest in Florida and the entire Southeast region."

According to the press relase, posted online at the Eye on Miami blog:
"Following a five day standoff, six activists entered the swamp through a public waterway and chained themselves to trees. Eleven other activists were swept up by the police in a frivolous attempt to quell the protest. Currently, Everglades Earth First! is confronted with the immediate need to raise $18,000 to bail these courageous activists out of Martin County jail."
Local TV footage posted at Eye On Miami has also been posted on YouTube by Earth First!.

Additional coverage, along with photos and video footage of the 1,000-year old Cypress trees in Barley Barber are online at, here.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Activists say FPL is killing 1,000-year-old Cypress Trees

Palm Beach County activists are charging FPL with killing thousand-year-old cypress trees and trying to hide it in 455-acre Barley Barber swamp area, according to a Broward-Palm Beach New Times report.

Activists at Everglades Earth First, already battling FPL in court, says that FPL is pumping water so quickly from the area that the millenial trees are dying off at a rapid rate.

The paper quotes Everglades Earth First activist Russ McSpadden as saying:
"The FPL power plant sucks up water so fast from the aquifer that it is pulling the soil down below, leaving the roots of these ancient trees exposed. The whole place is collapsing."
FPL apparently purchased Barley Barber swamp in Martin County three decades ago and for years gave tours of the area known for its ancient cypress trees and abundant wildlife until closing down the swamp after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Read the full Broward-Palm Beach New Times story online here.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

FL PSC says 'clean energy' should include nukes, coal

The Miami Herald reports today that she staff of the state's Public Service Commission has recommended redefining renewable energy to include nuclear and clean coal.

Such a redefinition would make it easier for FPL and other electric utilities to comply with a goal set by Gov. Charlie Crist of having 20 percent of all electrical power come from renewable energy by 2020.

Environmentalists are opposed to the redefinition, while FPL immediately expressed its support for the PSC staff recommendation.

Read the full Herald story online, here.