Just three years ago, Miami-Dade county was being paid $27 million dollars more for the very same amount of electricity produced at their waste to energy plant than they are today. The facility – known as the Resources Recovery Plant – generates enough energy to both operate the plant and to power approximately 45,000 homes. The plant recycles 2,000 tons of aluminum and 20,000 tons of ferrous metals annually – reducing impacts on landfills. About 200 local residents are employed at the plant.
Because the Florida Legislature and the Public Service Commission have long given the state’s big power companies carte blanche on energy policy, this community has already lost $75 million dollars that could otherwise be spent on dire needs.
It’s hard to imagine but the law prohibits the County from using the electricity produced at its own facility to supply power to other County-owned facilities. Meanwhile, county taxpayers pay Florida Power and Light more than $100 million for electricity each year.
Wow! People are tied of being squeezed constantly. When does it end? Florida Power & Light just got an $811 million dollar rate increase. Now they want $318 million more for costs associated with Hurricane Matthew. Plus they want to charge us $50 million to clean up the leaking cooling canals at Turkey Point when they’ve known about the problem since the 1970s. Plus they’re still charging customers in advance to build 2 more nuclear reactors that may or may not get built.
The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) just got into the act sending a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission opposing the two new units over concerns for their drinking water. Kirk Zuelch, executive director at the Authority said and I agree, “We think that, before anybody would consider expanding a facility, they should fix the problems that the existing facility has.”
These problems could pollute the drinking water supply for all of South Florida and now they want to store the contaminated water used to clean the reactors and radioactive waste in the Boulder Zone of our water table. Gee, what could possibly go wrong?
Who is looking out for us? How many more sweetheart deals must we endure?
Thankfully Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava brought forward a resolution that passed on December 20th urging “The Florida Legislature to enact legislation, and the Florida Public Service Commission to adopt rules to allow governmental entities to use energy generated from one governmental property for the benefit of other non-contiguous properties owned by the same governmental entity or to require that governmental entities receive the market rate for energy produced at their facilities.” Makes sense to me.
This issue was discussed at the Miami-Dade Legislative delegation hearing that took place last week at FIU. We hope that our elected officials will heed the County’s request, stand up to the big utilities and instead, work for the interests of its citizens.
Local governments all across Florida, including Miami-Dade County, have invested more than a billion dollars in facilities to deal with waste and create energy during the past several decades.
To finance the projects, local governments signed long-term contracts with investor-owned utilities like FPL. Many of those agreements are expiring. Miami Dade County’s agreement with Duke Energy, for example, expired in 2013. Now the electricity produced at these plants throughout Florida is being purchased by the utilities at a much lower price than they were paying previously.
Utilities hide behind the state regulators paying a fraction of what the power is actually worth and certainly far less than it costs to build new power plants. Yet, local governments, businesses and residents pay the very same utilities the retail rate to purchase electricity from those very same power grids.
To the Miami-Dade delegation, use your considerable clout to do the right thing. Please show leadership and fix this ridiculous loophole.