Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FPL charges to 'educate' on power conservation draw criticism

The Miami Herald reports today that "The simplest way to battle global warming is to use less electricity. But that basic idea has produced a bitter battle between environmentalists and Florida Power & Light."

In fact, says the paper, FPL claims that 2006 federal data shows it's No. 1 nationally for something called "cumulative energy efficiency achievement."

Utilities like FPL are required by a 1980 law to teach customers how to conserve energy -- FPL says it's doing such a good job educating its customers that it deserves to keep charging them for the education, about $2 dollars per month on their electricity bill.

The story points out the obvious, that:
Environmentalists are skeptical of some of FPL's claims. Stephen Smith, head of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, wrote recently to the Governor's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change that FPL's claim to be No. 1 relates to demand reduction programs, paying customers to lower usage at certain times, and not overall energy savings.

Measuring energy savings as a percentage of total sales, FPL ranks No. 19 nationally, Smith wrote. ``Energy savings, not demand reduction, is the path to reduced global warming.''

Certainly, customers are paying. In a PSC workshop earlier this year, environmentalist Holly Binns said Florida utilities have collected $4.15 billion from customers since 1981 to reduce electricity consumption, but consumption per customer has risen 44 percent in Florida while it declined by 28 percent in California, an early advocate of energy-efficient appliances and building codes as well as demanding aggressive programs from utilities.
You can read the full Herald story online, here.

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