FPL admits no need for new electricity until 2024: so why Sabal Trail?

17%, 13%, now 0% new electricity needed in Florida, according to FPL? And the Sabal Trail excuse of coal plant “modernization” has already been accomplished without Sabal Trail? While even FPL is now deploying solar power and admits solar “is now significantly influencing FPL’s resource planning”? So what is the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline boondoggle for, then?

Two years ago I pointed out that FPL’s own projections in its ten-year plans filed annually with the Florida Public Service Commission did not support any need for Sabal Trail.

  • in 2011 FPL projected a 17% 10-year electricity demand increase
  • in 2014 FPL projected a 13% 10-year electricity demand increase

Adding a third 36″ fracked methane pipeline would be a 50% increase. Correct me if I’m wrong, but 50% seems much larger than 13%.

Spectra and FPL’s excuse for that has always been the “modernization” of coal plants, meaning conversion to natural gas plants. Nevermind they could do it faster, cheaper, safer, cleaner, and with no eminent domain by deploying solar power.

Let’s look at FPL’s Ten Year Power Plant Site Plan 2016-2025 filed with FL PSC in April 2016:

“Difference: FPL does not project a significant long-term additional resource need until the years 2024 and 2025.”

That’s in the Executive Summary, in boldface, on page 7, which continues:

Forecasted lower peak load growth, plus the recently approved Okeechobee CC unit that will enter service in mid-2019, results in FPL projecting that its next significant long-term resource needs will not occur until the years 2024 and 2025. Because these resource needs are 8 and 9 years in the future, no decision regarding how to best meet those resource needs will be required for several years. Recognizing this fact, this Site Plan shows a large CC natural gas-fired unit at a greenfield site being added in 2024. The CC unit is a reasonable resource option which could address FPL’s resource needs for both of these years. However, on-going resource planning analyses in subsequent years will ultimately determine what the best resource option(s) for 2024 and 2025 will be. This decision will be addressed in future Site Plans.

That looks like a demand increase of 0% (zero percent).

What about that “modernization” of coal plants? It’s already happened!

Page 59:

In regard to using natural gas more efficiently, FPL received approvals in 2008 from the FPSC to modernize the existing Cape Canaveral and Riviera Beach plant sites with new, highly efficient CC units to replace the former steam generating units on each of those sites. The Cape Canaveral modernization went into service in April 2013 and the Riviera Beach modernization went into service in April 2014. On April 9, 2012, FPL received FPSC approval to proceed with a similar modernization project at the Port Everglades site. The project has been completed and the new generating unit went into service on April 1, 2016. All three of these modernized sites have the capability of receiving water-borne delivery of Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) oil as a backup fuel.

So much for Sabal Trail being needed for coal plant “modernization”.

Update: 2016-08-21: How was this possible, if it was such a big deal? Stuart Korfhage, The St. Augustine Record, 11 October 2015, Eric Silagy, CEO of FPL, shares thoughts on solar power, emissions compliance,

But FPL isn’t forced to make a lot of changes because it uses coal for just 3.9 percent of its energy needs.”

How could 3.9% of FPL’s energy needs ever have justified an increase of 50% in incoming fracked methane?

FPL admits again on page 84 of its 2016 Ten-Year Plan:

III.G FPL’s Fuel Mix and Fuel Price Forecasts

  1. Securing Additional Natural Gas:
    The recent trend of increasing reliance upon natural gas to produce electricity for FPL’s customers is projected to continue due to FPL’s growing load.

Wait a minute: what growing load? FPL already admitted up front in the Executive Summary there is no growing load. I guess they forgot to edit that excuse out of this section.


The addition of highly fuel-efficient CC units at Cape Canaveral, Riviera Beach, and Port Everglades due to completed modernization projects,

There it is again: “completed modernization projects”.

plus the additional CC capacity at the Okeechobee site that will come in-service in 2019, will reduce the growth in natural gas use from what it otherwise might have been due to the high fuel-efficiency levels of these new CC units. In addition, as discussed above, FPL plans to add a significant amount of new PV facilities that utilize no fossil fuel.

That’s PV as in photovoltaic, as in solar power, as in what FPL’s rep told the Suwannee Board of County Commissioners wasn’t practical in Florida because of clouds. Yet FPL says right here in its 2016 ten-year plan filed with FL PSC that FPL is deploying “a significant amount of new PV facilities that utilize no fossil fuel”.

However, these efficiency gains do not fully offset the effects of FPL’s growing load.

Again, with the non-existant “growing load”. Read the Executive Summary! There is no growing load.

Therefore, FPL will need to secure more natural gas supply, more firm gas transportation capacity, and secure gas reserves in the future as fuel requirements dictate. The issue is how to secure these additional natural gas resources in a manner that is economical for FPL’s customers and which maintains and/or enhances the reliability of natural gas supply and deliverability to FPL’s generating units.

FPL has historically purchased the gas transportation capacity required for new natural gas supply from two existing natural gas pipeline companies. As more natural gas is delivered through these two pipelines, the impact of a supply disruption on either pipeline becomes more problematic. Therefore, FPL issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in December 2012 for gas transportation capacity to meet FPL’s system natural gas requirements beginning in 2017.

So FPL admits there’s no growing load, and FPL admits that natural gas pipelines are prone to supply disruptions. FPL didn’t say what sort of disruptions, but perhaps like Florida Gas Transmission (FGT)’s 2009 pipeline explosion between I-95 and the Florida Turnpike that barely missed a high school, or FGT’s 2012 giant fireball in Gilchrist County, or FGT’s 2012 pipeline subsidence force majeure sinkhole event in Assumption Parish, Louisiana. Force majeure as in act of God, as in not FGT’s fault, taxpayer beware. There are lots more examples, not only by FGT but also by Williams Company and by Spectra Energy, the pipeline company that wants to build Sabal Trail.

Oh, and disruptions as in a soft target that has inadequate security measures, as in an easy mark for terrorists, as often already happens in the middle east and South America.

If FPL actually cared about power source diversity, it would take back the $3 billion to be wasted on Sabal Trail and spend it on solar power throughout the state, which doesn’t leak, cause sinkholes, or explode and couldn’t be taken out all at once by any attack.

So why did FPL let an RFP for Sabal Trail? Continuing in FPL’s 2016 Ten-Year Plan, page 84:

The RFP encouraged bidders to propose new gas transportation infrastructure to meet Florida’s growing need for natural gas. A third pipeline would benefit FPL and its customers by increasing the diversity of FPL’s fuel supply sources, increasing the physical reliability of the pipeline delivery system, and enhancing competition among pipelines.

Because of an alleged “growing need for natural gas”, even though even FPL now admits there is no growing need in Florida for electricty, and because of “diversity”, which could be met far better with solar power. The FPL RFP that Spectra won with Sabal Trail was based on premises now known to be false.

Yet FPL keeps pushing that Sabal Trail boondoggle:

The RFP process was completed in June 2013, and the winning bidders were Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC (Sabal Trail) and Florida Southeast Connection, LLC (FSC). The contracts with Sabal Trail and FSC were reviewed by the FPSC and approved for cost recovery in late 2013. The order approving this cost recovery became final in January 2014. Sabal Trail and FSC have sought Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval for the new pipelines. FERC granted certificates of approval for the new pipelines on February 2, 2016. The certificates were accepted by the pipeline companies in early March 2016. The planned in-service date for the pipelines is May 2017.

FPL even admits in its 2016 plan that solar power is winning, on page 56:

III.C Discussion of the Projected Resource Plan and Issues Impacting FPL’s Resource Planning Work

  1. The Economic Competitiveness of Utility-Scale Photovoltaics (PV):
    A factor that is now significantly influencing FPL’s resource planning is the increasing attractiveness of utility-scale PV facilities. This is due largely to the continued decline of the cost of PV modules. Because utility-scale PV facilities are approximately twice as economical on an installed $/kw basis than distributed PV, the declining costs of PV modules has resulted, for the first time, in utility-scale PV in specific locations now being cost competitive on FPL’s system. In addition, FPL’s analyses of the output from its existing PV facilities in DeSoto and Brevard counties have resulted in FPL establishing a methodology for determining Summer and Winter firm capacity values for utility-scale PV facilities.

    As a result, FPL’s resource plan that was presented last year showed that FPL plans to add approximately 223 MW (nameplate, AC) of new PV generation by the end of 2016. In this 2016 Site plan, the resource plan that is presented shows that an additional approximate 300 MW (nameplate, AC) of PV will be added by 2021. (For planning purposes, a 2020 in-service date is assumed and shown in the resource plan.) Details regarding these new PV facilities are discussed further in this chapter in section III.F.

Meanwhile, Gulf Power (a Southern Company) is already deploying 120 MW AC of solar power in 2016 in the Florida panhandle alone. And in March 2016 FL PSC approved Gulf Power’s community solar program, Gulf Solar Energy Share, lettihg individuals buy into a new solar farm near Milton, FL and in new areas around the panhandle as subscription requests increase. Meanwhile in Georgia, Georgia Power (a Southern Company) has already made Georgia the fastest-growing U.S. solar market. Does Florida have less sun than Georgia?

Just yesterday, Florida voters passed Amendment 4 by almost 3/4, well more than the 60% needed, thus improving the economics of solar power in the Sunshine State.

FPL is being dragged kicking and screaming into the sunlight by competition, economics, and politics.

Yet FPL keeps pushing the Sabal Trail fracked methane boondoggle.

Why? Could it be profit by export, what with four or more already-approved LNG export operations in Florida, right where that pipeline chain would go?

FPL admitted in its 2016 ten-year plan, FPL, that all its excuses for Sabal Trail have been overtaken by competition, economy, and politics, like a cockroach in sunshine under a magnifying glass.

What can FPL do if it doesn’t want everyone to believe Sabal Trail is for LNG export?

FPL can cancel Sabal Trail!

Cancel that boondoggle and spend that $3 billion on solar power in the Sunshine State.

For more on the Sabal Trail pipeline see the LAKE blog Pipeline category and for what you can do see the Sabal Trail issue on the WWALS blog.


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