Archive for August, 2014

A utility in Arizona (APS) has asked their Public Service Commission to allow them to pay homeowners $30/month to install solar systems on 3000 homes.  The total nominal electrical generation of this rooftop power plant would be 20 megawatts.  This would be valuable to the utility because the electricity would come during peak daylight hours when customers are demanding cooling A/C.  The cost of this PV plant would be distributed among all customers just like any new power plant (including their regulated profit, of course).  The Arizona PSC said it would respond by September.

Compare this to FPL’s idea to let customers pay them $9/month to build solar plants in this state.  FPL estimates that enough customers will dig deep to build a mere two and a half megawatts.  The state legislature and Florida PSC gave FPL permission for a special rate increase some years ago to construct an innovative hybrid solar/gas power facility. With the experience from this plant and the dramatic reduction in PV prices during the last four years, it would be reasonable to expect FPL to start advancing clean energy with solar power plants as their primary 21st century fuel source.

Instead, the utility got approval from the governor to build two nuclear plants down at the bottom of the peninsula pretty much in the direct path of hurricanes and rising sea level.  The cost of concrete and insurance liability is not likely to decline in the next 8-10 years, nor is the cost of nuclear fuel.  Even so, the company has narrowed the total cost down between $12 and $18 billion.  South Florida public officials are in agreement that sea level is rising.  If federal officials approve the plan construction won’t begin until 2022.

FPL could start adding solar capacity and energy efficiency right now.  PV panels could be added to each of their electric poles as is done by a utility in New Jersey.  They could lease rooftops for solar panels on homes and large commercial buildings.  Solar arrays could be constructed in their vacant right-of-ways.  The company knows that polls show Floridians want more clean and safe energy.  Why are they resisting with this modest, feel-good, volunteer plan?  Is their monopolistic business model at risk?  Do smaller, distributed, zero-fuel-cost solar plants have greater lifetime costs than two nuclear plants?  Show me the truth.

Sam Kendall



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