Late Tuesday afternoon, Florida Power and Light (FPL) announced a comprehensive, four-year rate settlement agreement that the company says will keep rates low for consumers and accelerate the nation’s largest solar buildout, which will include 16 million solar panels across more than 50 new sites across the state.
The deal was developed jointly with Florida’s Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group (FIPUG), and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. It now requires approval from the Florida Public Service Commission. If it gets the green light there, FPL said in a news release that the agreement will boost long-term investments in infrastructure, clean energy and innovative technology.
“This agreement is a big win for all 5.6 million FPL customers and our state, and it demonstrates what can be achieved through a collaborative process,” said FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy. “In a rapidly growing state on the front lines of climate change, our customers deserve bold and decisive, long-term actions as we build a more resilient and sustainable energy future all of us can depend on, including future generations. This agreement paves the way for FPL to continue delivering America’s best energy value – electricity that’s not just clean and reliable, but also affordable.”
Richard Gentry, who represents Florida’s consumers at the Office of Public Counsel in the negotiations, says the deal came together after FPL agreed to increase its investment in solar and green energy projects and make additional improvements for Gulf Power customers.
“We bargained heavily in the agreement for more commitment from [FPL] for solar,” Gentry told The Capitolist. “Part of the additional money in the agreement is going to their solar battery project, and based on feedback from consumers, FPL will increase their SolarTogether subscription program by an additional 300 megawatts.”
Gentry also noted that a big part of the agreement was FPL’s commitment to modernizing Gulf Power in the Panhandle, which merged with FPL at the beginning of the year. Gentry noted that FPL decommissioned a coal plant and converted it to cleaner natural gas, and is also building a direct connection between Gulf’s existing grid and FPL’s generating capacity in the rest of the state, a move that will help with resiliency concerns.
According to the release, the typical FPL residential customer bills are expected to remain well below the national average through 2025, and the agreement would also unify the rates and tariffs of FPL and Gulf Power. FPL says the typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill in Northwest Florida will actually decrease by the end of 2025.
The proposed agreement reflects a nearly 40% reduction in FPL’s proposed January 2022 base rate revenue increase, from $1.1 billion to $692 million, driven partly by a reduction in the company’s originally proposed return on equity midpoint from 11.5% to 10.6%, according to FPL’s release. FPL’s 2023 requested revenue increase would also be reduced by nearly 10%, from $605 million to $560 million.
FPL is also building the world’s largest integrated solar-powered battery system, the FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center, that’s projected to begin serving customers later this year. The agreement would also enable the company to continue ongoing storm hardening plans of the FPL energy grid in the face of Florida’s frequently severe weather.
In addition to solar energy and storm hardening initiatives, FPL says the settlement agreement will support FPL’s green hydrogen pilot project in Okeechobee County, described as “an innovative technology that could one day unlock 100% carbon-free electricity that’s available 24 hours a day.”