You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Editorial: FPL’s 2013 pipeline looks better than FPL’s 2009 pipeline

In 2009, the Florida Public Service Commission rejected Florida Power & Light’s proposed $1.5 billion natural gas pipeline. This year, FPL is requesting a $3.5 billion pipeline project. Why does FPL think that this time will be different?

For starters, an FPL spokesman says, this actually is a cheaper pipeline from a customer standpoint. The commission rejected the 2009 project because it was deemed not to be the most cost-effective method of delivering gas. According to FPL, transportation costs of the new project are lower. Customers would pay those transportation costs, not for construction.

This project is different in other ways. FPL would have owned the pipeline proposed four years ago, running from northern Florida to FPL’s Martin County plant in Indiantown. Most of the new pipeline would be a joint venture between Spectra Energy of Houston and NextEra Energy, FPL’s Juno Beach-based parent company. They would spend $3 billion on the section between a pipeline hub in Alabama and Osceola County, south of Orlando. A NextEra subsidiary would build the $550 million link from there to the Indiantown plant, from which FPL would distribute the gas.

Finally, FPL and all Florida utilities have become even more dependent on natural gas than they were four years ago. By 2016, FPL will have converted three major generating plants — in Brevard County, Riviera Beach and Broward County — from oil to natural gas. The company projects that roughly two-thirds of its power then will come from natural gas.

Such a change requires more capacity to import the gas, since Florida produces almost none of it. FPL argues that Florida’s two existing natural gas pipelines are at capacity or will be there soon. At the start, FPL would use about half of the longer pipeline’s capacity. Only Texas uses more natural gas to generate electricity than Florida.

Still another reason, one that FPL doesn’t acknowledge, is that the current Public Service Commission has been friendly to the company. In December the PSC agreed to settle a rate case on terms that the company had drawn up, which was an unprecedented move and drew a legal challenge from the Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers. FPL wants an answer on the pipeline by the end of 2013. Two seats on the five-member commission come open this year, but no new commissioners would take over until 2014.

Florida’s switch to natural gas has brought many benefits. The boom in production, due in large part to the controversial practice of fracking, has driven down prices. Natural gas also burns cleaner than oil and much cleaner than coal, thus reducing emissions of greenhouses gases that cause global warming. The Public Service Commission has been steering FPL and other utilities toward this switch for nearly a decade. Barring a persuasive argument that the pipeline would be a burden to consumers, FPL’s case is stronger than it was four years ago.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Trump’s policies weaken womens’ health around the world

When video surfaced last fall of Donald Trump boasting about sexual assault, outrage erupted. But if Trump’s words about women were offensive, his policies are incomparably more consequential — and may cost more lives than in any other area of his governance. Yes, the phrase “war on women” may seem hyperbolic, but it also reflects...
Editorial: Convene special session to set medical marijuana rules
Editorial: Convene special session to set medical marijuana rules

A commanding majority of Florida voters – 71.3 percent — said in no uncertain terms in November that they wanted access to medical marijuana to relieve a wide range of painful and debilitating conditions. Amendment 2 outperformed Donald Trump on the ballot by nearly 2 million votes. The measure carried in every one of Florida’s 67...

POINT OF VIEW Addressing absenteeism key to reading proficiency
POINT OF VIEW Addressing absenteeism key to reading proficiency

Many thousands of children in the United States, including many in Palm Beach County, finish third grade without learning to read proficiently — and that puts them on a dreaded track of dropping out of high school. The ability to read is critical to a child’s success in school, life-long earning potential, and his or her potential to contributing...
Rampell: To see how Trumpcare would work, look to Iowa

Wondering what the health care system would look like under Trumpcare? Take a gander at Iowa, where the individual market is on the verge of collapse. Just one insurer remains in most of the state, and Medica is threatening to exit. Republicans love to point to Iowa’s struggles as evidence of Obamacare’s failures. But in reality, the state&rsquo...
More Stories