|FPL's Mike Sole, Speaking at Senate Field Meeting April 29th|
The meeting convener said accurately, at the start, no one on the panel chose to be in Homestead on a late Friday. He also warned the participants on the panel not to "politic" the FPL aquifer destruction issue, an admonition immediately contradicted by the positioning of the highest ranking elected official -- incoming senate president Joe Negron, a Republican -- flanked by two Miami-Dade Republicans whose senate seats are up for grabs in November as a result of Fair Districts; Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Anitere Flores.
Miami-Dade County and Monroe County voters have no similar protections.
The dismal reality is that FPL's problems at Turkey Point have been percolating for more than thirty years. Michael Sole, the FPL vice president and former secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, bounced over that fact during his hour long introduction to the panel and audience.
Listening from my seat, Sole's presentation was polished and illuminating; in particular his frequent return the word "freshening" to describe the action FPL is taking to dilute its pollution in the cooling canals.
Freshening is something you do to wake up. Splash some cool water on the face. Everyone loves being freshened. What FPL is doing with its "freshening" will cost FPL customers $50 million this year. That's the money it will cost to plug up FPL's problem; the contamination of underlying groundwater leaking westward to drinking water wells and eastward under Biscayne National Park.
The $50 million assessment on ratepayers is grossly inaccurate.
To stop the overheating of the cooling canal system (never mind the pollution problem), FPL is now authorized by emergency measures of the Rick Scott administration in Tallahassee to withdraw nearly 150 million gallons per day of fresh water from our aquifer into its 168 mile long cooling canal system. That water belongs to the people of Florida. It is water being stripped from the aquifer in exactly a part of the Everglades ecosystem that we long ago pledged to fix: southern Biscayne Bay, from the nearshore waters stretching to Ocean Reef, and including a 30,000 acre tract of former wetlands now bone-dry as a result of FPL's problem called the Model Lands.
So the cost this year to taxpayers is not just $50 million, according to Sole, the cost includes turning Biscayne Bay wetlands into FPL's sacrifice zone. Sole is a board member of the Everglades Foundation which, as a consequence, is an awkward defender of FPL and silent on Turkey Point.
There was a further inaccuracy in Sole's statement to the panel. FPL has not been, in Sole's words, clear and transparent in sharing the science and data on its cooling canal problem at Turkey Point. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Over many years, FPL bullied its way through state and local agencies, overtly and covertly threatening staff and using legalistic sleights-of-hand to avoid making public the results of monitoring and testing, especially in Biscayne Bay.
Sole's powerpoint presentation (with some map slides where delineation boundaries were awkwardly invisible) showed exactly TWO measuring stations in Biscayne Bay and three measuring points in areas close to the nuclear facility it now disputes. Those three measurement sites were added as a result of findings following the controversial power uprate in 2012 for the aging reactors. One can't draw a better inference how the public interest has been blocked than the concerted effort by FPL to stop state and local government from data collection and analysis.
FPL and regulators now assert the problem of the overheated cooling canal system is the result -- not of the uprate approved by Florida politicians and Scott appointees at the Public Service Commission -- but of abnormally hot weather and drought.
They don't call it climate change.
To acknowledge climate change at Turkey Point would require FPL to agree that these weather-related phenomena are precursors of rapid sea-level rise that will exert severe pressure on Turkey Point's nuclear reactors, its cooling canal system and every acre of South Dade.
As for the sea-level rise shareholder proposal to be assessed at the Company's upcoming annual meeting in Oklahoma! (my wife and I made the proposal through NextEra Energy), that is opposed too because -- according to the Company -- everything is under control.