Friday, February 27, 2009

Biscayne Park citizens want to Stop FPL franchise agreement; Commission vote set for March 3rd

Citizens of the tiny Village of Biscayne Park will have one last chance to stop the approval by their local commission of a 30-year agreement with FPL that villagers say will unnecessarily lock them into a deal with FPL over the use of the electric power distribution grid.

Writing in to the Miami Herald's Soapbox today, villagers voiced concern that the 3-2 majority of the Biscayne Park Commission that already has passed a resolution approving the agreement on first reading, will give in to FPL's demands and approve the agreement on second reading Tuesday night, March 3rd.

Biscayne Park resident L. Bryan Cooper wrote:
Across Florida, municipalities are re-signing 30-year contracts with the energy giant FPL. As written, this franchise agreement ties the hands of cities, towns and villages with respect to their use of the power distribution grid -- at the very moment in our history when a new energy paradigm is unfolding. Groundbreaking solar energy storage models just developed at MIT ( will allow local governments across the Sunbelt to take charge of energy production within their borders. Yet without cooperative distribution capabilities, and the development of future small-scale competitive energy markets, citizens stand to lose.
The Commission meeting is set for Tues., March 3rd at 7 pm at the Ed Burke Recreation Center – 11400 NE 9th Court, Biscayne Park.

The full text of the Soapbox letters are available online, here.

FPL plans to request new $800-950 million annual base rate hikes

Very interesting paragraph way down in an excerpt from the new 10-K SEC filing by Florida Power & Light Co, issued this morning:
In November 2008, FPL notified the FPSC that it intends to initiate a base rate proceeding in March 2009. In the notification, FPL stated that it expects to request an $800 million to $950 million annual increase in base rates beginning on January 1, 2010 and an additional annual base rate increase beginning on January 1, 2011. These amounts exclude the effects of depreciation, which depend in part on the results of a detailed depreciation study that FPL is currently finalizing. Further, FPL expects to request that the FPSC continue to allow FPL to use the mechanism for recovery of the revenue requirements of any new power plant approved pursuant to the Siting Act that was established in FPL's 2005 rate agreement. Hearings on the base rate proceeding are expected during the third quarter of 2009 and a final decision is expected by the end of 2009. The final decision may approve rates that are different from those that FPL will request. (yellow-highlighted emphasis is ours)
So, any power plant approved by the Florida Public Services Commission under the terms of the 2005 base rate agreement -- including Turkey Point 6 & 7 nuclear reactors that are yet to be built -- are going to be used by FPL as justification for requesting yet another base rate hike of as much as $800 million to $950 million annually that would be passed along to its customers.

Get ready, folks! Looks like FPL is getting ready to stick it to us again!

See the full Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operationsfrom the 10-K filing online at Marketwatch, here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Opposition to FPL Turkey Point transmission lines growing

Eye on Miami posts today that opposition is apparently growing to FPL high-voltage transmission lines in Miami-Dade, with city of Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner having written a letter to FPL asking that the lines along US-1 (South Dixie Highway) be buried or kept within existing right-of-way along the Don Shula Expressway.

South Miami residents are meanwhile organizing to oppose the transmission lines coming through their community and have called for residents to come out to a public hearing at South Miami City Hall Monday night to make their concerns heard. A flier being distributed calls similarly for the high-voltage lines to be buried or for FPL to stick to the existing right-of-way further west along the Expressway.

South Miamians have previously voiced their concerns and we have posted about Miami Herald news reports here and here.

Officially known by FPL as the Turkey Point 6 & 7 Transmission Improvement Project, the proposed transmission lines would carry high-voltage electricity north from the as-yet unbuilt nuclear reactors 6 & 7 at the Turkey Point plant through several communities in Miami-Dade County.

An online map of the proposed transmission line routes shows it would variously affect the communities of Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, Coral Gables and Coconut Grove.

See the full Eye on Miami post today with photos of similar FPL lines in Miami, here.

UPDATE: Miami-Dade blogosphere a buzzin' ...
Coconut Grove Grapevine: Residents are concerned about proposed high voltage lines

Miami New Times' Riptide 2.0: As The Fight Over FPL's Proposed Mega Power Lines Continues, South Miami is Holding a Workshop
FURTHER UPDATE: Residents want to stop FPL high-voltage lines along US 1, Florida East Coast Railroad

Stop FPL from ... taking credit for saving the manatees?!?!

You gotta love this one ... FPL taking credit for saving the manatees!

Yep, FPL basically taking credit in a Florida Today story up on the Space Coast for the discharge from its power plants staving off the extinction of the manatees.

Now admittedly, the manatee population in Florida is suffering from a decline in warm water habitat. And, FPL power plants do generate warm water discharge. But, to put the two together in a piece about the "positive effects" of FPL power plants on our natural environment.

Wow, you gotta hand it to FPL ... what a PR machine!!!

But, shame on Florida Today for printing this story and providing a PR platform for the ludicrous implication that FPL is somehow saving the manatees.

Read the full Florida Today story online, here.

South Daytona effort to Stop FPL electricity monopoly hits resistance

South Daytona providing electric power directly to its citizens? Without the help of FPL?

That's something that City Manager Joe Yarborough and City Attorney Scott Simpson have been looking at for the past three years. Now they're hitting resistance from the giant private electricity provider, according to an article in today's East Volusia News-Journal.

FPL is now fighting hard in current contract renewal negotiations to remove an option that would give the city the right to distribute electricity itself, if it so chooses. And, playing hardball ... threatening a lawsuit to be able to remove the city's option to go it alone.
Councilwoman Nancy Long said she did not appreciate that stance, nor did she understand why FPL did not want to leave the purchase option in the franchise agreement.
Read the full story online, here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Florida renewable energy groups call for $114 million trust fund

A different kind of campaign to effect political change than the type we're accustomed to seeing from FPL and its lobbyists is being generated by three Florida energy groups that have banded together in the Florida Clean Energy Campaign.

Last week, the Florida Renewable Energy Association, Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy and Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association banded together to announce their support for a $114 million "clean energy fund to help solve the crisis in funding the state's renewable energy programs."

Called the Florida Clean Energy Trust Fund, the idea is to tap into the estimated 80% of Floridians who have told pollsters that they would be willing to pay up to $1 per month extra on their electric bill to support solar development programs.

See the announcement online at

More information abo0ut the Florida Clean Energy Trust Fund is online, here.

Has FPL over-expanded capacity? CEO says customers "cutting back"

Electric utilities may not be going the route of the belly-up banking industry, but Andrew Gordon of Investor’s Daily Edge suggests that there are reasons for investors to sell off stocks as the “recession has finally caught up to the utilities.”

In an online post at the blog Offshoreinn, titled No Shelter for Safe Investors in Utilities, Gordon is quoted as saying FPL is cutting back spending and citing FPL CEO Lewis Hay for the reason why:

“A lot of people think demand for electricity is inelastic. It’s not. Our customers are cutting back, and they’re not paying their bills, either.”

So, did Florida Power & Light just think the heady days of development and expansion would last forever? Did they simply over-expand, lobbying legislators and cities and counties for more power-plant construction and transmission line extension without anticipating that someday it would all come grinding to a halt?

And, what is the public left with? FPL's record profits for 2008, costs continually passed along to their customers, ongoing FPL-caused environmental degradation and the constant bullying for more nuclear and coal-fired plants, high-voltage lines and right-of-ways through our communities ...

Time to stand up and fight to end the monopolistic control of our energy future in Florida by a single provider! Time to Stop FPL!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Coal is bad. Period. Stop FPL agrees ...

Hat tip to Gimleteye over at Eye on Miami for this post, Coal is bad. Period.

It's a link to and reprint of Bill McKibben's article Why I’ll Get Arrested To Stop the Burning of Coal, originally published at Yale University's 360Environment.

Well worth the read, especially given the lobbying efforts by FPL and others to get the Florida Public Services Commission (PSC) to change the State's definition of "clean energy" to include nuclear and clean coal.

See also our previous posts:
FL PSC says 'clean energy' should include nukes, coal

Florida Comission tells FPL nuclear is not green

Stop FPL now @ Twitter

As you've surely noticed, this is a very text-based site ... and we've kept it that way for a reason: to make it as accessible as possible for dial-up Internet users and for easier loading onto mobile web browsers, unburdened by all those large images and graphics you see on lots of sites.

Convinced by one of our readers, we've decided to jump on the Twitter bandwagon so that mobile phone users can follow us more easily as we update the site and get alerts and blog posts wherever they may be ... and hopefully to build the Stop FPL presence across other online platforms.

So, you can now follow Stop FPL @ Twitter ... just go to and see our updates and log-in to Twitter to download the client to your phone and follow Stop FPL while you are mobile.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Anti-FPL activists gets Palm Beach Post reader support

Anti-FPL protester Panagioti Tsolkas received positive support from Palm Beach Post readers in letters to the editor published by the paper on Sunday.

Following criticism in a Feb. 8 column by retired Post editorial writer Dan Moffett, one reader wrote in that the actions of Tsolkas and others arrested for protesting environmental damage by an FPL plant in Palm Beach County are "legitimate attempts to draw attention to serious, even life-threatening situations," and continued:
"The protest against Florida Power & Light Co.'s West County Energy Center was a perfect example. This project could pollute our air and threaten the purity of our ground water. Its location makes it a danger to the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge."
Another reader said that Moffett's column was "an untruthful attempt to influence readers against an environmental activist who risked his safety and freedom to protect what little remains of the environment in Florida," adding that:
"Throughout our history, the powers of the status quo have used all kinds of punitive measures to silence our voices. But we will not be dissuaded, we will not be frightened, we will not be silenced.
Tsolkas also wrote in his own defense:
I was sentenced to 60 days in the Palm Beach County Jail by Judge Laura Johnson - double the time requested by the state attorney - for asserting my right to defend land, liberty and the water we all drink from.
And, he noted the response of Henry David Thoreau, jailed for opposing slavery, to his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson when the latter visited Thoreau in jail:
When asked by Emerson what he was doing in jail, Thoreau responded with an answer that should resonate with people of conscience today in Palm Beach County; perhaps even The Post's Dan Moffett: "What are you doing out there?"
Read the letters to the Palm Beach Post editor, here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

FPL and Florida politicians: follow the money

FPL spending to influence Florida election races -- and by extension our elected officials once they're in office and sitting on key committees that deal with energy and utilities -- may seem like the minor leagues as compared with FPL spending on federal elections, if all you're looking at are the amounts of the contributions.

After all, we've already detailed that FPL Pac spent a total of $145,500 to influence Florida's congressional election races during the '08 primary and general election cycle.

And search through the online Florida Division of Elections Campaign Finance Database for the years 2002-08 does come up with amounts that pale in comparison to the '08 federal election campaign spending.

But, a closer look at FPL spending on Florida Senate and House races by its various PACS from 2002-08, shows that "minor leagues" may not be as good an analogy as "seed farm" or "nursery" -- in which FPL fertilizes the careers of those politicians who move up the food chain from local city and county Commissions through the State House and Senate with their eye on the big prize, where the big piles of lobbyist fertilizer lay, Washington, DC.

The breakout chart pulled from the database and attached here shows that FPL spent about $28,007 on Republican candidates for Florida State Senate seats and $17,351 on Democratic Senate candidates during that four year period.

The reason for the relatively small totals and all the onesies-and-twosies of $500 contributions is simple: Section 106.08 of Florida Statutes mandates that a candidate for public office may accept no more than $500 per election, although in any given year a candidate can receive that $500 maximum contribution for each of the first primary, second primary and general elections.

More important than the party or candidate totals, however, is who these candidates were and are ... top of the list of recipients on the Republican side is Jeff Atwater, the Palm Beach banker who is the current President of the Florida Senate; and, Mike Fasano, President Pro-Tempore and a member of the Senate's Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities committee.

Of course, that republicans line up to take FPL money is no great surprise. But, clearly, the Democrats in Tallahassee hardly bat an eyelash when FPL PAC contributions come their way.

Topping the FPL contributions list for 2002-08 Senate races was Dave Aronberg, who sits on the Senate's Policy and Steering Committee on Energy, Environment, and Land Use committee. Aronberg is followed on the list by current U.S. Congressman Ron Klein, who before he moved on to Washington took $1,817 from FPL in multiple primary and general election races in 2002; he also took $8,500 from FPL in his 2008 Congressional campaign for re-election.

And, then there's Dan Gelber, who took the maximum allowable $1,000 from FPL for his successful primary and general election Senate races last year; he's now believed to be a front-runner for Mel Martinez's U.S. Senate seat, soon to be vacant.

Regardless of the size of the individual contributions involved, what is clear here is that FPL seems to have in place a very deliberate program of cultivating and fertilizing politicians through campaign contributions at every level of politics here in Florida and in the nation's capital. Citizens need to be aware of this and to know who is receiving how much from FPL in order to hold our elected officials accountable.

Our aim is to keep doing that and so far we've looked at the federal elections in '08 and at the Florida Senate races for the past six years. Next up: Florida House races from 2002-08 ... and then maybe we'll take a cue from Eye on Miami and move onto county politics, where all the land use and permitting takes place and FPL cultivation of elected officials faces far less scrutiny.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Anti-FPL activist writes 'Open Letter' from jail

Panagioti Tsolkas, Palm Beach County activist incarcerated for protesting the West County Energy Center and sentenced to 60 days in jail "for defending my home from Florida Power and Light," has written an Open letter to people of the Everglades (and those who care about it), posted today at the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition's site.

Since writing the letter, Tsolkas was released on a $5,000 appellate bond and after serving 16 days of the 60-day sentence is now awaiting an appeal to a higher court of the circuit court verdict against him and co-activist Lynn Purvis, who has opted to serve out her entire 30-day sentence.

Stop FPL has posted about the two activists' sentencing here and about the efforts to stop the environmental degradation caused by the West County Energy Center, here.

The latter post links to a lengthy story at Broward-Palm Beach New Times, here.

Meanwhile, Everglades Earth First! has called for a Week of Action in Solidarity with jailed activists, with details online here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

FPL hat-racking? Anna Maria Islanders have a story to tell

The 2010 tropical storm season is just around the corner and that means all those out-of-state FPL-affiliated tree-trimming crews from Asplundh and other companies will descend on Florida and commence their annual spate of hat-racking trees, wherever they can find them even remotely close to a power distribution line.

The Anna Maria Islander reported in March 2007 on a local couple's horror story. The newspaper report outlined FPL's PR pitch about the professionalism of their tree-trimmers in the runup to line clearing in the Holmes Beach area of the island in anticipation of the 2007 storm season.

But, local couple Pat and Austin Rice had a warning for Islanders:
"If you have some trees, don't just say ‘yes' to trimming," Austin Rice said from his home in the 500 block of 74th Street last week. "If you say ‘yes,' say ‘we want to know exactly what you're going to do."
The Rices said they weren't opposed to tree-trimming, per se, they just didn't understand why their olive tree had been decimated by the Asplundh crew:

"They just came in and ‘whack, whack,'" said Pat Rice. "It wasn't hurting the power lines at all."

"Every year we trim them," Austin Rice said.

He said a contractor came to the house on Feb. 25 and said a crew would need to trim on Feb. 26.

The Rices agreed, but the crew didn't arrive on Feb. 26.

The next day, the Rices left Holmes Beach for a visit to Punta Gorda. Austin Rice remembers seeing the orange Asplundh trucks on the road headed for Anna Maria Island.

When the couple returned home, two of the three olive trees had been "trimmed" — one had been trimmed of about a quarter of its leaves and branches.

A complaint was registered with FPL and several days later, on a Saturday, a crew returned to the Rices' yard to rectify the complaint.

"The only thing left to do was cut it down," Austin Rice said.

Read the full Islander story online, here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

FPL reports delay in solar plant construction

FPl has reported a delay in the start of construction of its Space Coast solar power plant, reported Florida Today newspaper.

FPL had intended the start building the $78.9 million 10-megawatt Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center in late 2008, the paper reported, but a delay announced in October has been followed by a further delay of today's rescheduled groundbreaking.

Apparently to avoid conflict with NASA's launch schedule, the groundbreaking has now been reset for May 2009. Company officials could not say when the plant would become operational.

Read the full Florida Today story online here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

FPL hikes electric rates, boosts shareholder payouts 6%

Florida Power and Light Co. has boosted electricity bills for Florida consumers by 6.2 percent -- even though fuel costs have fallen dramatically since the summer -- marking the largest increase in electricity bills by any utility in any of the five largest states in the U.S., reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

This, despite the fact that "natural gas prices have dropped more than 25 percent and oil prices have plunged about 50 percent since early 2008," the paper reported. And, despite other competing utility providers in the State having opted to lower their rates because of lower fuel costs:
Progress Energy Florida announced Thursday it would lower its rates, in part, because of the lower cost of fuel. FPL did a fuel forecast in early November that slightly decreased rates starting in January, though the combination of fuel and other fees still mean customers are paying more than they did a year ago.
The revelation comes at a time when New York Stock Exchange-listed parent corporation FPL Group has announced it is raising its quarterly dividend payout to shareholders. According to an Associated Press report, FPL Group announced that investors will see their dividends rise by 6 percent to 47.25 cents per share.

FPL Group profits jumped by 82 percent in 4-Q 2008, according to the company's year-end statement.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Anti-FPL demo called in Palm Beach for Feb. 24

The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition has called for a Feb. 18-24 week of solidarity with 26 activists arrested for blockading the construction entrance to the 3,800-MW West County Energy Center in Palm Beach County and to protest the Feb. 2 sentencing of two activists in an earlier protest at the site.

On Feb. 18, over a hundred anti-FPL activists gathered and 26 were arrested for blockading the construction entrance to the power plant, which is adjacent to headwaters of both the Everglades and Loxahatchee River.

On February 2, 2009, two of the activists, Lynne Purvis and Panagioti Tsolkas, were sentenced to 30 days and 60 days, respectively, for their participation in the blockade of the plant's entrance.

The coalition says the plant is being blockaded because:
The WCEC is permitted by the DEP to use over 7 billion gallons of water a year, drawn from surface, aquifer and re-use sources in and near the Everglades. It has also been permitted to emit over 12 million tons of C02 annually—an amount greater than the thirty least polluting nations on Earth.
Read more here about the week of "Solidarity actions with Everglades Earth First! Political Prisoners, Feb 18-24 and the Feb. 24 demonstration called for the DEP Southeast Regional Office 3-5pm at 400 N. Congress, West Palm Beach.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Online petition to Stop the FPL Monopoly!

There's a new online petititon that's been launched to "Stop the Florida Power & Light Monopoly!"

Sponsored by a group called People for Fair Utilities, the goal is to get 10,000 signatories in a drive to break FPL's monoplly over electric rates in Florida. The petition reads:
It is time that we say "No" to FPL making profits off of our need for electric. I have looked for ways to cut my electric or go solar but FPL has us by the you know what. I can live without alot of things but my family and animals need air conditioning to survive in South Florida.

According to the FPL website

"for the full year 2008, FPL Group reported net income on a GAAP basis of approximately $1.64 billion, or $4.07 per share, compared with $1.31 billion, or $3.27 per share, in 2007". That is NET income!

Also on the FPL investors site it states, "We are pleased to report that 2008 was our best year ever, which is something we doubt very many companies can say." And, their future outlook is "FPL group is well positioned for earnings growth in future years".


Anyone can sign the "Stop the Florida Power & Light Monopoly!" petition online. Just go to ...

Monday, February 9, 2009

FPL transmission lines discussed by South Miami Commissioners

South Miami City Commissioners debating a proposed land purchase for use as a passive park at US1 and SW 80th Street moved quickly to discussion of FPL's proposed route along US1 for high-voltage transmission lines that could render the land worthless.

According to a Miami Herald report, Commissioners ended up voting 4-1 during a Feb. 3rd meeting not to buy vacant land at 6540 Manor Lane, at the corner of US1 and SW 80th Street.
''It's not a good time to purchase right now,'' Commissioner Velma Palmer said. ``Timing is everything and we just can't afford this at the moment.''
The paper said Commissioner Valerie Newman balked at the initial outlay for the purchase and that she noted ...
South Miami doesn't know where Florida Power & Light lines will cut through the city when the lines are moved later this year or next year.

''If the lines go through or near the park, it will render that property useless,'' Newman said.

UPDATE: Residents want to stop FPL high-voltage lines along US 1, Florida East Coast Railroad

Turkey Point Unit 4 power output dips to 60%

Reuters news agency reported that Nuclear Unit 4 at the Turkey Point power plant dipped to 60 percent power early Monday, Feb. 9, after having been operating at full power on Friday, citing a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission a report.

No reason was given for the reduction in power output from the reactor. Reuters noted that "FPL plans to spend about $1.5 billion to add about 400 MW of capacity to the company's existing St Lucie and Turkey Point reactors by 2012."

In addition, the news agency noted that:
In 2009, FPL plans to file with the NRC to build two of Toshiba Corp (6502.T)/Shaw Group Inc's (SGR.N) Westinghouse Electric Co 1,100 MW AP1000 reactors at Turkey Point. FPL however has said it is also considering General Electric Co (GE.N)/Hitachi Ltd's (6501.T) 1,550 MW Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) technology.

If the company decides to go forward with the new reactors, FPL has said the units, 6 and 7, could enter service in the 2018-2020 time frame.
Read the full Reuters story online, here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

FPL Protesters in Palm Beach Outraged Over Sentence

On Monday, Feb. 2nd, a Palm Beach county judge outraged anti-FPL activists when he sentenced Panagioti Tsolkas and Lynne Purvis for their role in a 2008 road-block protest at a new Florida Power and Light power plant sight.

WPBF-TV reported that the judge sentenced Tsolkas to 60 days behind bars and Purvis up to 30 days.

Members of Everglades Earth First! and the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition protested that the sentence is too harsh and violated the activists' right to free speech.

The full story is online at, here:

FPL customers struggle to pay bills, deposits

Today's story in the Miami Herald should erase any doubt about whether or not FPL is going to share the public's pain in the midst of the economic downturn.

On the contrary, despite record profits FPL is cracking down on customers struggling to stay current with their ever-rising monthly electricity bill:
Late payers can expect a demand from FPL that they make large deposits, have payments deducted from their bank accounts or have a third-party guarantee payment. FPL says it is following prudent business practices using steps approved by state regulators. FPL earned $789 million last year, down from $836 million in 2007, a drop attributed mostly to the economic slowdown.

FPL's moves have angered some customers. Complaints to state regulators are up 20 percent this year; FPL would not provide exact numbers of affected customers but spokesman Mayco VillafaƱa said any customer ''who develops a late payment or nonpayment history'' is asked for a deposit. The company disconnects customers only as a last resort, he said -- only after a series of warnings by mail, phone and/or e-mail.
Read the full Herald story online, here.