Florida team selected through a competitive evaluation process
Joining together under the name Florida Alliance for Accelerating Solar and Storage Technology Readiness (FAASSTeR), the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA), Nhu Energy and the Florida Energy Office have been awarded a $1.75 million grant through the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to increase the growth of solar energy in Florida by developing new and innovative ways to use it in combination with energy storage and other resources. Rounding out the FAASSTeR team to provide research and analysis support are the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Florida’s municipal and cooperative electric utilities.
The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to reconsider a final rule issued by the federal agency in 2015 that regulates wastewater discharges from steam electric power plants.
At issue is a EPA rule, “Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category,” which was finalized in late 2015.
Pointing to higher-than-expected fuel costs, Duke Energy Florida filed a proposal Thursday to increase residential customers’ monthly bills by about 5 percent in July.
Duke filed the request at the state Public Service Commission and asked that it be considered during a June 6 meeting. In a news release, the utility said the request stems mainly from higher prices for natural gas and coal.
The City of Bushnell has been a municipal electric utility provider since 1919, for nearly 100 years. In 1981, the City of Bushnell and Sumter Electric Cooperative, Inc. (now known as SECO Energy), entered into an Electric Service Franchise Agreement for a 30-year term.
This agreement allowed SECO Energy to provide electric services to specific areas inside the city limits. The agreement included a purchase option clause that upon expiration of the 30 year term, the City could consider purchasing the SECO Energy electric plant and facilities inside the city limits that serve those Bushnell customers. Since the expiration of the agreement, the City has attempted to negotiate a settlement with SECO but has been unsuccessful. The terms of the Franchise Agreement outlined a formal process called Arbitration, where an arbitration panel of judges could determine the purchase price the City would pay for the system based on facts and evidence.
A majority of electric customers in 10 Florida cities believe utilities should investigate solar power, but if solar power increases electric bills, only a small percentage of customers are willing to pay more, according to research sponsored by the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA).
The municipal utilities that participated in the survey, included Gainesville, Green Cove Springs, Havana, Key West, Kissimmee, Leesburg, Newberry, Ocala, Orlando and Vero Beach. Many of these cities plus other municipal utilities in the state are considering joining together through FMPA in a large solar project to help lower the cost of solar power.
FMEA’s Associate Member Spotlight of the Month for April is Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s utility group provides a range of investment banking, underwriting and capital markets services for municipal utilities.
A proposal to carry out a renewable-energy tax break that voters approved in August continues to move forward in the House, despite arguments the measure could slow the growth of solar energy in Florida.
The House Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday backed the measure (HB 1351), sponsored by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero. In part, the measure would extend a residential renewable-energy tax break to commercial and industrial properties.