Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Coral Gables to study impact of proposed power lines

A story in the Miami Herald says Coral Gables city leaders are following the lead of nearby communities in looking more closely at FPL's proposed route along US-1 of 230-KV high voltage electric transmission lines, hoping to assess the impact on residents and schoolchildren of the projected power lines.

According to the article by staff writer Elaine de Valle, which appeared in the zoned Neighbors section for Coral Gables and South Miami:

Acting on the concerns of residents in the city and nearby communities, leaders in Coral Gables want to find out the impact of controversial proposed new power lines that could traverse part of the city as part of Florida Power & Light's expansion project.

City Manager Pat Salerno got approval from the City Commission to hire a consultant to analyze the impact the new lines proposed along U.S. 1 will have on nearby residents.

Salerno told the newspaper that Coral Gables does not expect to receive details from FPL until June, when the utility expects to file its application for construction in the Gables.

"It's really for us to be prepared so that, once we've received the package of information from FPL, that we don't just have to take FPL's word for it that there will be no negative impact on the residents,'' the manager said. ``We want to have an independent way to validate what they are telling us.''

Read the full Herald story online, here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

FPL gets key Miami-Dade approval for Turkey Point rock-ming project, despite opposition

Persistent lobbying efforts at the Miami-Dade County over the years paid off for FPL yesterday, as the Miami-Dade County Planning Advisory Board in a 5-3 vote approved an FPL land-use change request that would allow rock-pit mining in the south of the county -- despite strong opposition from environmentalists, farmers, Biscayne National Park and the U.S. Air Force.

The Miami Herald reported today on the approval by the board that sent to the County Commission for its approval or rejection next month a plan by FPL to rock mine near Biscayne Bay in order to provide landfill for the two new Turkey Point 6 & 7 nuclear reactors planned for the power plant.

Red the full Herald story online, here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Miami-Dade County to hear pros, cons of Turkey Point landfill plans

Front page story this morning in the Miami Herald outlines what's at stake today in the hearing before Miami-Dade Planning Advisory Board for a permit to allow rock mining for landfill purposes related top construction of new Turkey Point nuclear reactors 6 & 7.

According to the story, FPL canals criticized as health risk, by Herald staff writer Curtis Morgan:
Environmental groups, backed by Biscayne National Park, will ask Miami-Dade's Planning Advisory Board on Monday to reject a request key to its Turkey Point plan. The land-use change would clear the way for FPL to dig rock pits in up to 880 acres of nearby farmland as a source of limestone fill for future construction.
The story goes on to say that:
... spiking chloride -- a measure of salt -- in monitoring wells west of FPL's site, and new aerial electromagnetic assessment techniques used by the U.S. Geological Survey, suggest South Miami-Dade's salt concerns are the most serious in South Florida. Salt fronts typically ebb and flow, but preliminary data suggest the salt is moving inland yearly in spots.
Read the Herald story in full online, here.

Turkey Point NRC hearing: residents, environmentalists, workers voice concerns

Two very interesting pieces over the weekend at the Miami Herald on the Turkey Point hearing in Homestead on Thursday evening with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

On Friday, Herald staff writer John Dorschner framed the public hearing in terms of a debate between representatives of some fairly heavy-hitting environmentalist groups, concerned over salt water contamination of the fresh water aquifer underlying Miami-Dade county and damage to Biscayen National Park, versus workers concerned with jobs, jobs, jobs ... who were (surprise!) in favor of the expansion of nuclear units at Turkey Point.

Dorschner's story is online at: Residents get their say on FPL plans for new Turkey Point reactors.

On Sunday, Neighbors section reporter Tania Valderomo reported on the same meeting in the zoned Pinecrest/Bays edition of the paper, focused more on the local residents' concerns about the impact of Turkey Point expansion:
The question on everyone's mind Thursday is how two new nuclear reactors would affect their lives -- from safety at the proposed nuclear power plants to storing nuclear waste to water sources. Residents also wanted to know the effect of the reactors on wildlife and vegetation at neighboring Biscayne National Park.
Valderomo's story can be read online at: Feds start discussion on more nuclear facilities in South Miami-Dade.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Two Turkey Point meetings with NRC on Thursday

Two Turkey Point hearings are set for tomorrow, Thursday April 23rd, with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commisssion.

The first is a meeting for local elected officials "to discuss the role that the NRC will play in the anticipated review of the Florida Power and Light company (FP&L) application for a combined license for the proposed Turkey Point Units 6 and 7."
Local Elected Officials NRC meeting
April 23, 2009 from 1 PM to 2:30 PM
Keys Gate Golf & Country Club Palm Room
2300 SE Palm Drive (SW 344 St), Homestead
The second meeting is from 7 to 8:30 pm Thursday night for the general public, at which NRC staff will provide information on the licensing process for FPL's request for the new reactors at Turkey Point and address concerns about the existing facility.
General Public NRC meeting
April 23, 2009 from 7 PM to 8:30 PM
Keys Gate Golf & Country Club Palm Room
2300 SE Palm Drive (SW 344 St), Homestead
Anyone interested at all in FPL's nuclear power expansion in Miami-Dade and in our State should turn out for this public meeting. And, don't hesitate to let your local officials know what you think about this important issue!

Monday, April 20, 2009

South Daytona challenges FPL to show them the money!

The city of South Daytona is challenging FPL to show it the money!

The city's challenge to drop FPL as its local electricity distributor, reported earlier at Stop FPL, have expanded to a demand that the power giant justify its recent request for a base-rate increase to electricity customers.

South Daytona has demanded that FPL open it's books to show why the base-rate increase is necessary and are meeting with stone silence from the publicly trade energy utility.

The ongoing saga is getting some real press coverage up in Volusia County at the News-Journal online and at the websites of WTFV-9 and CFNews-13.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Coconut Grove FPL Committee Update at Village Council Meeting

Hat tip to West Grove Political Beat blogger Stephen Murray for this item.

Seems tonight (April 16) is the Coconut Grove Village Council meeting at City Hall and on the agenda is "an update on the Florida Power and Light Committee" ...
The FPL Committee is headed by Harlene Kennedy and is trying to prevent high voltage, above-ground lines from being installed in the Grove. An ideal situation for our safety during a hurricane would be for FPL to install the cables underground.
The meeting is televised locally in the Grove on cable Channel 77 and streamed online at

FPL prominent in Eye On Miami roundup on 'Environmental Issues We Are Facing'

Genius of Despair gives a nice (well, frightening, really!) roundup today at Eye on Miami of the pressing environmental issues facing all who live in Miami-Dade.

FPL related exigencies noted, include numbers 1, 2 and 6, which we've taken the liberty of reprinting here:
1. Nuclear and Coal Technologies Need to be Removed from the Renewable Portfolio:
These two technologies will take away funding for development of real renewable energy sources like solar and wind. This week there were important State Senate Committee Hearings on SB 1154 and it will be important to be vocal on this issue.

2. Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve:
At least $10 million for water managers to buy endangered Biscayne Bay wetland is gone, and more than $140,000 has been slashed from the Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas program. As Laura Reynolds (Tropical Audubon) sees it, Biscayne National Park's fragile ecosystem is suffering a slow "death by a thousand cuts." (Hit read more).

Without management, the Bay will degrade. For example boat propeller scarring in shallow sea grass areas of the bay is a problem in the preserve. Boaters disregard markers and just plough through the flats. Eventually, these scars erode and become trenches. For history buffs, who could forget the FP&L debacle of the 1960’s, when hot water was dumped into Biscayne Bay by the Company from their nuclear reactors. Large areas of sea grass and masses of marine organisms – both plants and animals – were killed.

Action: Press county and state officials to protect the bay and South Miami-Dade's fresh water supply.

6. Rock Mining Near Biscayne National Park:
Turkey Point Nuclear Power plant needs to raise the grade to expand and build two more reactors. They need enormous amounts of fill and it is feared that they will excavate near the park, causing saltwater intrusion and endangering our water supply. Also Cemex had a permit application last year to mine 26 million cubic yards on 200 acres very close to the park, at Florida City Quarry. Rock mining near Biscayne National Park will seriously affect water quality in the Park. This is one obvious problem. There is no doubt that marine life in the park will be detrimentally impacted, counter to the Park’s Management Plan.
Do check out the full post: Rundown of Environmental Issues We Are Facing. And be sure to follow Genius's counsel to "write to the Governor about all these issues. Express your concern for the future of the environment in Florida."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Michael Mayo: FPL executive pay jolts the outrage meter

Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo has been doing some further reading into executive pay levels at FPL ... and he's outraged.

In the face of a 30% base-rate hike request, he's outraged at FPL executives' shameless "country club memberships, home security systems, leased vehicles and gasoline, even flights and lodging for an annual physical."

FPL's response? Spokesperson Jackie Anderson resonded to a query from Mayo that given record profits last year the executives' perquisites were "reasonable, appropriate and in line with the needs of the business."


Want to read more? Take your blood-pressure medicine first, then sit down at your computer screen to read Michael Mayo's full column online, here.

South Miami proposes FPL power line alternatives

The Miami Herald reported in its Gables/S. Miami neighbors section Sunday the vote by South Miami Commissioners last week to oppose FPL high-voltage transmission lines coming through their community and propose alternate routes further West.

Commissioners also voted to support bills in the Florida House and Senate that would give communities more power in dealing with utilites over selection of power-line routes.

The vote came nearly two weeks after FPL announced it had selected a preferred route for the Turkey Point 6 & 7 Transmission Lines project that would run the 230-KV high-voltage lines supplying electric power from the yet-to-be-built Turkey Point nuclear reactors 6 & 7 right down Highway US-1, through Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, Coral Gables and Coconut Grove.

Read the full Herald story online, here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Repower America peititons Congress to close carbon pollution loophole

Closing the carbon pollution loophole will create jobs. It's that simple.

We need those jobs and in two days Repower America will deliver a petition to Congress to demand urgent action. More than 65,000 people have already signed.

Please sign the online petition now at RePower America!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

FPL requests OK on $1.5 billion 300-mile gas pipeline from Palm Beach to Gainesville

The Sun-Sentinel's Julie Patel reported today that on Tuesday Florida Power & Light proposed to the Florida Public Service commission the construction of "a $1.5 billion underground pipeline that stretches 300 miles from Palm Beach County to Bradford County near Gainesville as early as 2014."
The exact route will be determined after a "comprehensive public outreach process to obtain feedback” about it, FPL said. The pipeline proposal comes during the annual legislative session, where lawmakers are considering requiring utilities to have 20 percent of their energy come from renewable resources such as the sun and wind by 2020.
Read the full post online at the newspaper's House Keys blog, here.

More Follow the Money: Sun-Sentinel's Michael Mayo on ... flights & lodging for exec physicals?!?

You could wonder all day long what your monthly FPL bill goes to pay for, but ... out-of-state flights and loding so that FPL's top execs can go get a physical checkup?

And, this when they're proposing a $1billion base rate hike for their Florida customers.

'You gotta be kidding!' you say ... Well, Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo isn't.

Read his full column online, here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Follow the money: your monthly bill, FPL CEO compensation and sleeping guards at Turkey Point

Ever wonder how much of our monthly electricity bills go toward supplying us with ... well, electricity?

The Miami Herald reports today on the annual salary increases of the CEOs of FPL Group and its Florida Power & Light subsidiary, which of course comes right out of all our monthly electricity bills.

According to the Herald:

FPL Group (FPL), the parent of Florida Power & Light, announced that its chief executive, Lewis Hay III, received $11.5 million in total compensation in 2008, a 9.9 percent increase from his compensation package in 2007.

Armando Olivera, president of the FPL utility, received $3.6 million, an increase of 11 percent. Armando Pimentel Jr. received $1.7 million in his first year as chief financial officer.

Nice work, when you can get it! Especially when all the rest of us are threatened with loss of our jobs and our homes ...

Wonder how much of the ever-rising monthly cost of our electricity goes to pay for special entertainment pavilions at Golf tournaments, or slick marketing brochures that tell us that nuclear energy is "clean and safe" or the salaries of hoards of outside consultants and PR spinners and attorneys and lobbyists who we pay to help FPL sell its unchecked expansion to politicians and back to us, the customers.

Oh, and add one more cost that gets passed back to us on our monthly bills because it's tallied as an "operating expense" in FPL's annual budget ...

The Palm Beach Post reports today that in January, FPL paid the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission a $130,000 fine because six security guards at Turkey Point nuclear plant either "slept or served as lookouts for other guards who were sleeping "on multiple occasions" between 2004 and 2006."

Go figure! Wackenhut security guards don't do their job, endangering FPL customers living near the nuclear plant, and those same FPL customers ultimately get stuck with the $130,000 bill!

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's official! FPL selects US1 corridor for high-voltage transmission line

Of course everyone knew this would be the case: FPL has announced that it has selected US 1 as the route for the Turkey Point 6 & 7 Transmission Line project, running 100-foot towers carrying 230-KV high-voltage lines from Palmetto Bay, through Pinecrest, South Miami and Coconut Grove.

The Village of Pinecrest posted a copy of the official FPL letter and accompanying map, here.

Now, the ball is in the court of the local communities to see whether or not they are going to stand and fight or cave in to FPL's pre-determined route right through their business and residential districts.

Grove Village Council, South Miami Commission (again) considering FPL Transmission Lines

The Miami Herald reported online Saturday that the Coconut Grove Village Council has set up a committee to look at FPL related issues, including "burying overhead power lines underground to preventing power outages to finding out if the utility has plans to install new high-voltage transmission lines within Coconut Grove or nearby."

Meanwhile, the South Miami City Commission has posted two FPL-related agenda items for its meeting tomorrow night "opposing the proposed routes along the Ludlum Trail or along US Highway 1, for the FPL Transmission Line" and also "supporting House Bill 1315 and Senate Bill 2644 relating to construction of electrical transmission lines."

The Herald story gives a preview of how FPL will seek to divide communities along US 1, telling them that because the proposed high-voltage power lines would be on the West side of US 1 it would not actually impact Coconut Grove, Pinecrest or Palmetto Bay.

According to the Herald report:
When asked if FPL has plans to install the transmission lines within the boundaries of the Grove, [FPL spokesman Mayco] VillafaƱa said, "None of the potential routes identified by FPL and discussed with customers and elected officials has an impact on those areas described by you as the Grove." He added: "One of the potential routes would use the Metrorail corridor, along U.S. 1, but lies outside of the Grove boundaries."
In Coral Gables, without the citizenry noting much of a difference, the existing 60-foot distribution lines running along Ponce de Leon parallel to US 1 and ajacent to the Metrorail could be increased in height another 20 or 40 feet to become high-voltage transmission lines.

That leaves South Miami as virtually the only city along US 1 that would be split right down the middle by the proposed high voltage lines.

FPL will clearly have its way with the US 1 route if the other communities are gullible enough to fall for the FPL argument -- that they are not negatively impacted because the 230-KV high-voltage lines would run on the West side of US 1, just 50 feet outside their boundary lines.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Who are they trying to kid? Letter from Treasure Coast newspapers reader

The Scripps-Treasure Coast newspapers published a letter to the editor today at their website that says it all:

Who are they trying to kid? In order to get customers to pay an additional billion dollars a year in their base rates, Florida Power & Light has applied for a base rate increase of 31 percent.

According to Charlie Beck of the Office of Public Counsel, this is the biggest rate increase he has ever seen. The base rate on the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month is now $39.31 and will be $51.71 with the new base rate increase.

Read the full letter to the editor online, here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Seaweed clogs St. Lucie reactor 2 cooling pipe, causing shutdown

Reuters reports today that operators at the St. Lucie power plant shut down nuclear reactor 2 "due to lowering condenser vacuum caused by algae and seaweed clogging the cooling water intake."

There are two 839 MW Units 1 and 2 at the station, located on Hutchinson Island in St. Lucie County. Unit 1 remained in service.

Read the Reuters story online, here.

Ah, the chutzpah! FPL rate hikes not kosher, says Sun-Sentinel reader

Doncha just love those Sun-Sentinel readers?

In response to the paper's coverage of the FPL base rate hike request, reader Bronen Bello of Pompano Beach responds:
Re: "FPL seeks 30 percent increase in base rate" in your March 19 edition. I read that a primary factor in the increase is to "retain investor confidence" by providing a 12.5 percent rate of return to the company's stockholders. Where do I sign up? If the rate increase is not granted, FPL stockholders will have to settle for a measly 4.7 percent and 3.1 percent in 2010 and 2011. A cursory survey of the low rates of return currently available shows the 12.5 percent return FPL wants to soak its consumers for would make Bernie Madoff proud. The only thing standing between us and this rapacious scheme is Florida's Public Service Commission. Where is Michael Mayo when we need him?
Online, here.