Post wrong: FPL rate increase would lead to lower bills
Palm Beach Post Letters to the Editor
The Post’s recent editorial on Florida Power & Light Co.’s pending request for a rate adjustment ("FPL asking for too much," Aug. 16) correctly explained that our requested increase in the base rate would be more than offset by a reduction in the fuel charge, resulting in lower bills for customers in January 2010. If approved, for the typical 1,000 kilowatt-hour residential customer bill the reduction would amount to about $9 monthly as compared with the December 2009 bill. That’s a savings of more than $100 a year, and represents the lowest bill in four years.
However, the paper found fault with our proposal, saying that beyond 2010, "if the Public Service Commission goes along, however, the higher (base) rates would be guaranteed, but the (fuel) savings would not." That is false logic. Of course we cannot guarantee that the bill will be lower in the years ahead, because we cannot control the price of fuel. However, it is because fuel charges could go up again that we must continue to invest to achieve greater fuel efficiency. Our request for a rate adjustment will support our ability to do this as part of our comprehensive investment plan. Nobody wants to be stuck driving a gas- guzzler if pump prices go back to $4.50. Because natural gas prices could rise again, we want our power plants to be as efficient as a fuel-sipping hybrid vehicle.
FPL’s investments in making our power plants among the cleanest and most efficient in the country have saved customers nearly $3 billion in fuel costs since 2002. The savings have been driven by a wide array of efficiency projects that result in lower fuel use.
For example, FPL has converted older, oil-fired power plants, such as those in Fort Myers and Sanford, to more efficient natural gas/combined-cycle technology, while adding new, similar generating capacity at our Martin, Manatee and Turkey Point sites.
Two new plants, West County units 1 and 2, scheduled to come online in Palm Beach County in 2009, and West County unit 3 (2011) will be among the most efficient of their kind in the nation, using combined-cycle technology that is 30 percent more efficient than conventional natural gas generation. The plants FPL plans to modernize in Riviera Beach and Cape Canaveral will be 33 percent more efficient.
Newer, more efficient units mean that older units, while still remaining useful in many instances, run fewer hours. By 2014, cumulative fuel savings since 2002 from investments in generation efficiency will total more than $7 billion. Using a 2002 baseline, by 2014 these ongoing investments will yield an improvement of approximately 20 percent in the efficiency of FPL’s fossil power generation, and customer savings are expected to total more than $1 billion annually.
In addition to improving fuel efficiency, we’re focused on providing other customer benefits. We’re investing to make our infrastructure stronger every day, in good weather and bad. We’re investing in smart technology that gives customers more control and improves reliability. And we’re doing our part to fight climate change by investing in even cleaner energy.
FPL’s customer bill is already the lowest of the 54 utilities in Florida. Our reliability is in the top quartile of the country. We’re among the cleanest operating utilities nationally. By continuing to invest in our system, we’ll ensure that we can continue to deliver superior value to our customers. And that’s a guarantee.
ARMANDO J. OLIVERA, president and CEO
Florida Power & Light Co.
Editor’s note: The rate hearing before the Public Service Commission began Monday.