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FPL to build 8 new Florida solar energy plants, add 2.5M panels by 2018

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Florida Power & Light Co. is doubling down on solar power, announcing Monday a significant expansion of renewable energy production through next year. FPL, currently the largest generator of solar energy in Florida, will build eight new universal solar power plants by early 2018 – boosting its production with more than 2.5 million solar panels. “We have been working hard to drive down the costs of adding solar,” said FPL President/CEO Eric Silagy, “so we can deliver even more zero-emissions…

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PSC approves one-year halt to hedging of natural gas prices by utilities

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The Florida Public Service Commission signed off Wednesday on a moratorium on hedging of natural gas purchases by Florida’s major public electric utilities, pending negotiations over how the practice could stop costing ratepayers so much. The stipulated agreement calls for the commission to oversee one or more workshops beginning early next year in which the power companies, major customers, and the Office of Public Counsel will seek a more cost-effective way to insure against rising gas prices. “Hedging needs to…

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PSC approves higher water, wastewater rates for Utilities Inc. customers

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The Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved nearly $558 million in water and wastewater rate increases for Utilities Inc. of Florida customers in 10 counties, but some customers would receive refunds. The new rates are intended to be temporary, to keep the company solvent pending further review of its finances and operating expenses by commission staff. The vote followed the board’s approval on Oct. 11 of a limited 5.5 percent water rate increase for Pasco County customers, to finance…

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Contested FPL rate settlement would boost alternative energy sources

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There’s a hefty green energy element to Florida Power & Light Co.’s proposed $811 million electric rate increase, now before the Public Service Commission. The proposed settlement in the rate case would allow the power company to expand an experiment with battery technology, with the company absorbing $115 million in development costs. “We think it makes sense to get ahead of the curve and understand what value can accrue to the system by deploying batteries — whether it be to large…

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AARP mounts defense against $811 million rate deal for FPL customers

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The Florida Public Service Commission heard testimony Thursday on a compromise four-year, $811 million electric rate increase for Florida Power & Light co., including a denunciation of the deal by AARP. “There’s nothing in the record, in our opinion, to reflect any need for any increase by Florida Power & Light. In fact, we believe that a reduced rate is appropriate for 2017 and no increase for 2018,” said Jack McRay, a lobbyist for the group. The settlement between the…

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Water rate hike approved for Pasco community, but with big string attached

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State regulators approved a 5.5 percent increase in water rates Tuesday for residents of a Pasco County retirement community. But Utilities Inc. of Florida can apply the new rates only after it switches from its own discolored, malodorous and nasty-tasting supply to cleaner county water. The new rates will amount to $48,235 per year — an average $2 per customer per month — once the Florida Department of Environmental Protection finds that the water supply meets state and federal standards.…

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Rick Scott names engineer Donald Polmann to PSC

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Donald Polmann has been tapped as the next member of the Florida Public Service Commission. Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointment Thursday evening. The commission regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities. Polmann, of Dunedin, received the most votes of the Public Service Commission Nominating Council, getting eight nods. He is a registered professional engineer with three degrees, including a doctorate in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He wrote a chapter for a scholarly book on water use and supply. He has been…

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