FPL seeks limit of $200M
By SCOTT ANDRON
Electric companies stand to be among the biggest winners from the stimulus act.
Creating “a framework for clean, efficient, American energy” is one of the key goals listed on the official stimulus website, recovery.gov.
Of the act’s $787 billion total, nearly $39 billion will be distributed by the Energy Department. Energy efficiency and renewable-energy projects such as solar and wind power will make up nearly half of that.
Florida Power & Light has asked for $200 million — the most any one company can receive — under the stimulus’ Smart Grid Investment Grant program. That figure is just for the utility, however. Other branches of FPL Group, like its NextEra alternative energy venture, may apply separately, said Yanet Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the utility.
Much of the stimulus-funded work would be done by outside contractors, putting thousands of people to work.
Applying for the grants was a major undertaking for FPL, requiring coordination among departments as diverse as engineering, finance, legal, government relations, environmental, logistics and supply chain and information technology. Included with the application were more than 60 letters of support from elected officials, environmental groups and nonprofit organizations, the company said.
About 400 companies and energy providers have submitted applications for the roughly $3.4 billion available through the smart grid grant program. If FPL gets the full grant, here’s how it would be used:
• Smart meters: These allow customers to monitor usage by the hours, so they can estimate how much energy various appliances use. FPL also is testing technology that would, for example, enable customers to use a cellphone to turn off appliances when they aren’t needed.
The company previously announced plans to install the meters — which allow customers to monitor usage by the hour — throughout Miami-Dade. If the grants come through, the program will expand to Broward, for a total of 2.6 million meters by 2011. The company would use its own money to put smart meters in its remaining service areas by 2014, Sanchez said.
Without the grants, the company would still install the smart meters but at a slower pace.
• Electric network upgrades: The company also has asked for stimulus aid to upgrade its electric network to better resist storms, run more cleanly and identify and fix problems more quickly.
• Solar panels, cars: FPL’s application also includes money for solar panels on some municipal and school buildings, and for 300 plug-in hybrid cars.