Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sierra Club to PSC -- Don't Let FPL Bill Ratepayers for Fracking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2014

Contact: Frank Jackalone

Sierra Club to Florida Public Service Commission:  
Reject Advanced Billing for Oklahoma Fracking

Decision to Approve FP&L Petition to Explore Fracking at Expense of Customers to be Determined

Tallahassee – Tomorrow the Florida Public Service Commission will deliberate on a historic rate case that could drastically impact how utilities do business in Florida for years to come. Florida Power & Light has petitioned to expand its business by entering into a high-risk natural gas exploration at the expense of ratepayers. Duke Energy could follow suit with similar requests for fracking exploration.

If approved by the PSC, FP&L could charge its customers up to $750 million a year for a fracking project in Oklahoma without a guaranteed rate of return for customers. In essence, FP&L would shift all shareholder risks of investing in energy projects to customers, thereby eliminating shareholder risks and maximizing shareholder profits. The proposed project by FP&L is a speculative investment at best. At worst FP&L customers could wind up footing the bill for an expensive project that will yield nothing, similar to Duke Energy customers who paid for a nuclear power plant that was never built. 

According to the Office of Public Council brief filed against the FP&L petition, “customers will pay FPL and its shareholders approximately $709.4 million to potentially save approximately $51.9 million in fuel ove50 yearsWhile this estimated, projected, bunot guaranteed $51.9 million in fuel savings amounts to lesthan 2 cents a month fothe next 50 years when broken down per customer, FPL's shareholders will receive a fixed 10.5% return or guaranteed profit on the investment.”

Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Florida’s Staff Director said: “The PSC already gave utilities a huge gift by gutting energy efficiency standards by more than 90 percent last month. It’s time for the PSC to stand up for ratepayers and deny this petition by FP&L.”

Fracking for natural gas damages the land, pollutes water and air, and causes illness in surrounding communities. Even if one considers only the carbon emitted from burning gas and ignores the methane released during production and transport, the latest studies from the International Energy Agency (IEA) reveal that a switch from coal to gas would lead to a global temperature rise of more than 3.5 degrees Celsius (approx. 7° F).

”The better alternative is for the Public Service Commission to lead our big power companies soon to a future of reliable electricity generated for us by clean energy sources free of fossil fuels—using sun, wind, geothermal, biomass and large-scale energy storage systems.  Only by immediate action will we avoid unprecedented disruption of our climate,” said Tom Larson, volunteer co-lead of the Sierra Club Florida Energy & Climate Action Team.

The Public Service Commission will meet on Thursday, December 18th at 9:30 am to discuss this and other matters before the commission.