In one way or another, we’ve all been asking a simple question: “How can we energize economic opportunity?”
That’s the same question people are asking here in Florida, across America, and really – around the world. Our collective answers to that question will define the future. And the good news is: there are lots of ways we can answer that question constructively.
I believe we should energize economic opportunity in three simple ways:
1. Investing in infrastructure
2. Expanding educational opportunity, and
3. By working together more effectively.
Over the three-year period from 2011 through 2013, FPL is investing approximately $9 billion here in Florida to strengthen and improve the state’s electric generation and delivery system, and to maintain our strong reliability, all while helping to keep customer bills low over the long term, and all through the use of fuel-efficient generation and innovative technologies.
The combined fuel savings are tremendous. By 2016, our customers will save about $1.2 billion in fuel costs every single year. And every dollar we save our customers on fuel is a dollar that stays in their pocket.
Saving money for our customers is extremely important to us, but there are other benefits as well. FPL’s investments in new infrastructure also reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and not in a small way. In 2001, we burned more than 40 million barrels of fuel oil to generate electricity, almost all of it imported from overseas.
This year, we’re projecting that we will burn less than 600,000 barrels. That’s a reduction of more than 98 percent in just 10 years, which is a great benefit to our customers, when the price of oil once again is more than $100 a barrel.
The second way we can energize economic opportunity is by investing in education.
For grade school children, FPL sponsors science shows that visit about 100,000 students a year. For older students, we’ve created a solar education in schools program. Through this program, FPL has installed on-campus solar demonstration systems in a dozen schools, and we’re still doing more. And for young men and women ready to enter the workforce, we’ve created a Nuclear Power Plant Skilled Worker Pipeline Program. In fact, 76 employees at our two nuclear plants are graduates of this program.
Third, we can energize economic opportunity by recognizing that we are all in this together. To that end, and with the support of our regulators, FPL now offers a special “Economic Development Rate” for FPL business customers that commit to bringing jobs to the state (www.PoweringFlorida.com). I am also personally encouraged by several of our business customers who have told me recently that they see Florida’s economy turning the corner, and gaining strength and momentum. None of us knows what the future will bring, but working together for the common good can bring out the best in all of us.
Despite the headwinds we can all see before us, FPL remains incredibly optimistic about the future of our state, our country and our global economy. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to keep our electric bill the lowest in the state, and among the lowest in the nation.
Eric Silagy is President of Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc. (NEE) and one of the largest investor-owned electric utilities in the nation.