By Donald Kiselewski
When it comes to energizing the Sunshine state and ensuring a strong economy for the future, what we knew decades ago, still holds true today:
- A successful tomorrow begins with making the right investments in infrastructure today.
- There are no silver bullets in energy generation nor in economic prosperity.
- Day-in day-out, rain or shine, sun up or sun down, it’s always about reliability.
Looking at the staples of Florida’s economy, real estate and tourism, we realize that people won’t move to Florida if they can’t catch their breath and families won’t visit our sunny beaches if they’re not sandy and white. To ensure the long- term growth of Florida’s economy mandates the right infra- structure investments today.
Florida Power & Light (FPL) recently tore down the iconic red and white smoke stacks that stood at our Port Everglades plant defining the Ft. Lauderdale skyline for more than a half century. While they helped to fuel the growth of Florida, these stacks also symbolized an era of consumption and dependence on foreign oil that we’re now helping to make a part of Florida’s history. In their place, we are building a new, fuel efficient, clean energy center that will run on low-cost American natural gas. This investment in Florida’s future energy needs and a cleaner plant profile will also cut the carbon dioxide emissions rate in half and reduce air emissions by more than 90%.
FPL’s switch to generating electricity from American natural gas has cut our use of imported oil by 98% since 2001. Across the state, nearly 68% of the electricity Floridians use is generated by clean-burning natural gas. In fact, Florida uses more natural gas to generate electricity than any U.S. state other than Texas. However, we must be mindful that an over reliance on natural gas creates exposure for our future as well. A balanced power generation mix ensures that our bills are not held hostage to any single fuel source. Clean, zero emission nuclear generation and renewable generation have their place in Florida’s future as well.
Reliability means more than just keeping the AC and lights on, it means ensuring that low-cost American natural gas can reach our plants to generate power. Today Florida’s only two pipeline systems are nearing capacity. Without finding a way to bring more natural gas to our state in the near future, there won’t be enough gas to meet the growing electricity needs of Floridians. Last month, we announced the details of a new system, consisting of two, new interstate natural gas pipelines and an interconnection hub. This third gas pipeline system will benefit reliability for all Floridians and ensure access to clean fuel for our state’s future.
Speculating about our energy future and new kinds of interesting generating opportunities can be fun. However, Florida’s energy future will be shaped by prudent, balanced investments in long-term infrastructure needs and a focus on reliability. By keeping our energy bills low and focusing on clean fuel sources, Florida’s economy will benefit for decades to come.