NextEra program to ensure wind, solar projects get built
By EVE SAMPLES, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
JUNO BEACH — To offset their "carbon footprints," eco-friendly firms from hip start-ups to corporate giants have bought renewable energy certificates in recent years.
But it’s not always clear how much of their money goes toward building wind farms and solar-power plants – and how much gets siphoned to cover overhead costs.
To erase any doubts, NextEra Energy Resources – a subsidiary of Juno Beach-based FPL Group Inc. – is launching a program that would sell the certificates, also known as RECs, and use 100 percent of the proceeds to fund construction of wind and solar projects.
Unveiled Wednesday, the so-called EarthEra Renewable Energy Trust has $5 million in commitments from companies including Office Depot Inc. and Sony Electronics Inc. The first round of money will help finance a wind farm under construction in Logan County, Colo.
All marketing, administrative and other overhead expenses will be covered by NextEra, according to the company.
"It takes the question out of the customer’s mind because they know where the money’s going to go, and they know that it’s all going to go there," said Nate Hanson, a NextEra vice president.
Questions surfaced last year about a similar green-energy program at Florida Power & Light Co., also owned by FPL Group (NYSE: FPL, $51.17). That program, Sunshine Energy, promised to build 150 kilowatts of solar power in Florida for every 10,000 FPL customers who agreed to give the company an extra $9.75 a month.
But most of the cash went for overhead costs. Responding to public outcry, the Florida Public Service Commission killed the program.
Hanson said the new trust did not stem from the issues surrounding the program at NextEra’s sister company. "We saw confusion in the voluntary renewable energy market," he said.