Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Florida Power and Light, Gov. Rick Scott and Ag Secretary Adam Putnam receive rare rebuke from a Florida court ... by gimleteye

FPL delivers our electricity reliably and affordably: that's what the recent stream of TV and radio ads profess. As a long-time customer, I've noticed the appearance of this message coincide with some governmental or legal action that sends jitters through the company, depending on what it is the top brass want to accomplish or fear being denied.

In fact, not much has ever been denied FPL, a major player in the state campaign finance universe. Eye On Miami noted, with glum resignation, how in 2014 FPL persuaded Gov. Rick Scott and the cabinet, led by the man who would be Florida's next governor -- Ag Secretary Adam Putnam -- to rubber stamp FPL's siting plan for two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point. This, despite the protests and factual evidence provided by objectors who were completely ignored in a perfunctory cabinet meeting. To watch it on live broadcast at the time was amazing: a decision putting $30 billion of obligation for the new reactors on the backs of ratepayers was made in an instant.

Last week, a Florida law judge struck back hard against FPL for massively polluting the area around two 1970's era nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, for which the corporation sought and obtained permission to extract additional power a few years ago to the dismay of activists who had pointed out FPL operation of the plant had violated numerous binding legal agreements with the state of Florida.
Eye On Miami is the definitive source for critical views of FPL. Readers, type "Turkey Point" in the search bar if interested and read a very long history of commentaries, or, just click here. Here is just one, from Dec. 3, 2009, responding to a FPL troll had objected to an earlier posts.
10 Questions for FPL Dave: shame on, who? by gimleteye

My post on the "off-normal" event at FPL's Turkey Point nuclear facility provoked a detailed FPL response, ending: "shame on you". The shame comment will be addressed in due course. But first, thanks to several commenters after the FPL anonymous response. It is noteworthy when FPL technical and spin doctors, knowing that they face growing public resistance to new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, use a blog -- Eyeonmiami-- to offer technical rebuttals when the company is notorious in withholding details of its planned nuclear expansion. In public meetings scheduled by county government, to review safety violations at the existing reactors and its plans for new reactors, FPL did not even send representatives. Audiences addressed their questions from a microphone to an empty table on a podium. The anonymity of a blog is an easier place for the multi-billion dollar corporation to express itself: through a poster named "Dave" (Dave, is he the brother of "Bob", the better known half of FPL television marketing efforts?)

Well, Dave, here are a few other points to answer since you appear to have the inside line to corporate communications and tactical response to the blogsphere. A partial list: 1) why hasn't FPL disclosed its list of compensation for high paid executives, as requested by the Public Service Commission; 2) Why did FPL lobbyists engage in private Blackberry communication with PSC staffers, against clear PSC rules and ordinary ethical consideration; 3) Why does FPL want us to pay a drastic rate increase and why does FPL oppose meaningful--not just token--energy efficiency standards to guide future infrastructure investment, 4) Why, in its planning for two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, has FPL embraced a divide and conquer strategy-- withholding information from Miami-Dade and state permitting agencies until the force of that information, on water supply and rock mining for example, would not be able to stop the new nuke permitting process, 5) why did FPL fail to undertake testing as required in its agreement with the state of Florida to measure movement of super saline water from cooling canals at its existing Turkey Point nuclear units and why will it take so long to complete science on those failed promises, 6) why did FPL object to using tritium as a tracer for movement of water underground when the only conceivable source of tritium is its nuclear facility at Turkey Point; 7) why has FPL stood by while wetlands around Turkey Point turned into a nuclear apocalyptic vision out of Mad Max; 8) why did the top manager of Turkey Point resign suddenly on the basis of safety concerns at the nuclear reactors that you, Dave, assure blog readers is safe; 9) why did FPL employees and lobbyists bundle campaign contributions to South Miami mayor Horace Feliu in advance of his stating the city's support for new overhead power transmission lines despite the fact that the city commission had authorized no such support?

I'm sure there's a 10th question I've missed, that some of our readers can offer up to Dave.

Lastly, I'd like to address FPL Dave's "shame on me" that concluded his explanation of why the FPL report of an "off normal" event at the reactor site was not off normal. Like many of our readers, Dave, the fact that we are not nuclear engineers does not preclude us from opining on the matter of nuclear power. You are a multi-billion dollar corporation. We are citizens whose interests are presumably represented by government agencies. I'm not sure that is always the case. FPL appears settled on using this permitting period for new nuclear, to test out new tactics for battling the public. I meant, "informing the public". That includes disclosing technical information according to its will and supporting whatever tactics it can legally employ to suppress other information that may appear in public too late to matter in the context of predetermined outcomes that may be or are in the process of being embraced by elected officials with their hands out.

Gov. Rick Scott was re-elected, with strong financial contributions by the state's electric utilities, in November 2014. Two days before Christmas, Scott's Department of Environmental Protection signed off on the greatly relaxed administrative order with FPL, that lead to the administrative court decision last week finding against the state. We wrote, "All the ways you are paying for nuclear power in Florida":
On December 23rd (2014), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection signed -- far from the prying view of any media -- a highly controversial Administrative Order regarding FPL's Turkey Point Power Plant and the failing cooling canal system that has contaminated through a wide plume of hyper saline water the aquifer surrounding the plant, spreading toward Homestead to the west and Biscayne National Park to the east.

The thorny issue of FPL's bad faith over decades, spurning the intent of legal agreements with the state of Florida to assure that the cooling canal system would work or else, threatens to interrupt the long process that could lead to two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point that would make the facility the largest nuclear power plant in the nation in the area of Florida most vulnerable to sea level rise within the service lifetime of the reactors. (We have extensively blogged on FPL; our archive under "Turkey Point" or "FPL" is filled with more information.)

For months, environmental organizations have been fretting over an anticipated response by the Scott administration to an early draft (we blogged about it) circulated earlier this year. Environmentalists were shocked that FPL was laying the groundwork to avoid any punitive damages for repeated violations of its agreement with the state of Florida through the principal authority -- as opposed to bureaucratic -- for analyzing water pollution. That science capacity is administered through the authority of the governing board of Rick Scott appointees: the South Florida Water Management District.

Although I haven't had time to get feedback from scientists and experts, my review of the attached Administrative Order is that basically FPL is getting what it wants for Christmas at Turkey Point. The Order sets out the path for the District, over a number of years, to wash its hands of the mess at Turkey Point and to empower the politically charged Florida Department of Environmental Protection to deal with the costly issues the same way that Santa's helpers in the North Pole work all year to load Santa's sleigh that one special night of the year.

The devil is in the details, and there are lots of lawyers who know perfectly well how to make the details bend to political will. This, Floridians, is what you voted for in November.

And so, two years later, a Florida court did apparently agree. It is going to be very, very interesting to see what happens next at Turkey Point. Another EOM post from the past lamented how FPL, and its parent company, NextEra Energy, had received for eight years in a row, the honorary title of "World's Most Ethical Company". Who is ethical, now?

1 comment:

Martinez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.