After its regular meeting today, the state Public Service Commission will also hear from environmentalists who are challenging regulators' decision in July to scrap a program that would have allowed FPL to save a lot more energy than it has before.
The program would have provided customers with free, energy-efficient light bulbs and water heater blankets and rebates for tune ups and replacements of inefficient appliances. But it would have cost customers $1.44 to $1.85 more a month for customers who use 1,200 kilowatt-hours of power during the next four years. Environmentalists say the higher goals would have allowed the utility to avoid building new power plants, which also cost customers money, and FPL could have implemented other rebates to achieve the higher goals at a lower cost.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said the PSC violated procedural and due process requirements and state law because it was supposed to hold a hearing about approving rebates to meet new goals that had already been set. Instead, the hearing became a “de-facto goal setting” session where regulators effectively repealed higher, energy-saving goals set in late 2009 by approving a program that doesn’t meet them, SACE wrote to the PSC.
The goals approved are “nothing more than FPL’s previously approved…plan, which was designed to implement goals adopted” in 2004 – before the Legislature changed state law to require regulators to adopt more meaningful conservation goals, SACE said.
In their responses to the PSC, FPL and the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, which represents large business consumers of electricity, countered that changes to energy-saving programs are allowed. State law says: “The commission may require modifications or additions to a utility's plans and programs at any time it is in the public interest.”
FPL also noted that the commission was clear in stating it wasn’t changing the 2009 goals: The PSC’s decision “makes it clear that FPL is not eligible for any financial reward unless its performance exceeds the goals established by the Commission’s 2009 DSM goals order, reinforcing the fact that the goals have not changed.”
SACE also said concerns about costs are overblown and PSC employees recommended approving FPL’s new energy saving plan and rebates because they would “achieve all goals, and would not create an undue rate impact."
The PSC meeting can be viewed live online starting at 9:30 a.m.