Letters to the Editor

FPL is advancing solar power in Florida

Humor and hyperbole aside, Fred Grimm’s Oct. 26 column, Utilities stay shady in the Sunshine State, was so shockingly misinformed.

The column parrots an anti-utility lobbying PAC — the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). To back up his outlandish claims, Grimm cites a shoddy “study” without acknowledging that the same anti-utility lobbyists whose claims he promotes actually admitted to paying to have the study done.

What’s completely missing from the discussion is what matters to most people: cost.

Grimm laments that Florida should be more like other states, highlighting Georgia along with “California or New York or New England or New Jersey or North Carolina” in terms of putting solar panels on rooftops. He doesn’t mention the fact that electric rates in each of these states are significantly higher than what Florida Power & Light charges.

For example, in New England, rates average about 50 percent to 90 percent higher.

In New York, electricity costs 80 percent to 95 percent more for a typical customer. And in California, electricity costs more than double what it does in FPL’s service territory.

Perhaps even more egregious is his claim that Florida only has “a few token solar operations.” We’ve been investing in solar power for years, and we’ve announced plans to build 225 megawatts of new solar in the near future without charging our customers the rates that people pay in New England or California.

In 2009, FPL built the state’s first major solar power plant in DeSoto County. When the plant entered service, it was the largest of its kind in the nation. In the coming years, our plan is to build at least three more solar plants, each of which will be about triple its size. FPL also built the world’s first solar-natural gas hybrid power plant.

The plant generates as much as it can from solar energy, and at night or when it’s cloudy, the plant uses more clean, U.S.-produced natural gas to keep Floridians lights on and air conditioners running.

So far, we’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars into advancing solar in Florida, and we produce more energy from solar than many states. No matter where you’re from, that’s no token amount.

At FPL, we are proud to operate one of the cleanest, most reliable electricity systems in the nation while keeping our rates well below the national average, and we work hard to improve every day for our customers.

Buck Martinez, senior director,

Office of Clean Energy,

Florida Power & Light Co.,

Juno Beach