FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 18, 2015
Public Service Commission Rejects Ratepayers, Sides with Utilities
Commission Approves FPL Petition to Expand Fracking at Expense of Customers
Tallahassee - Today the Florida Public Service Commission unanimously approved Florida Power & Light’s request to further invest in risky natural gas exploration and development activities with no oversight by regulators for at least the next three to five years. This decision will guarantee a return of profit for FPL shareholders, while charging its customers up to an additional $500 million annually - above and beyond the $191 million a year already approved by the PSC in a previous natural gas development decision.
The decision by the PSC is unprecedented. According to PSC staff, no other state gives a utility carte blanche to move forward with such untested and unregulated investments of ratepayer money. FPL stands to make an immediate return on investment for its shareholders while customers could wait decades for any benefit from such an investment, if at all. FPL can now shift greater risks of investing in energy projects to customers, thereby further eliminating shareholder risks and maximizing shareholder profits.
Tom Larson, Conservation Chair for Sierra Club Florida and a specialist on energy & climate issues, said: “We are extremely disappointed with the Commission’s decision today. The approval of FPL’s expansion into unregulated natural gas projects is not only environmentally risky, but financially risky for ratepayers as well. Further, the PSC is deepening the dependence of Florida on natural gas for its electric system, while exacerbating the growing impact of our use of fossil fuels on climate change.”
This decision comes on the heels of a previous decision approved by the PSC in December to allow FPL to invest $191 million in a risky gas exploration and fracking project in Oklahoma. The project, which began producing natural gas in March, has yet to provide proof of savings for customers. What’s worse, with a volatile natural gas market, ratepayers could wind up footing a costly bill.
This further opens the door to other risky fracking projects to be presented to the Commission by utilities in Florida. Duke Energy has stated it would consider bringing similar fracking proposals to the Commission for approval based on the Commission’s vote. While Florida moves forward with more investment in out-of-state fracking, other states are investing more and more for their future in renewable energy such as solar and wind, which protects ratepayers and the environment.