JUNO BEACH, Fla. – Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today reported that though the summer season is in full swing, its projections for peak daily load have been less than expected, and that with a number of hot summer days still ahead, the utility anticipates no problems meeting customers’ electricity needs, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
The company’s highest peak load so far this summer was seen on July 25 when peak load reached 21, 289 megawatts. FPL says that depending on weather and customer usage, it expects to experience similar demands for electricity if similar temperatures are experienced in the weeks ahead.
“Though FPL has experienced strong growth in customers – adding the equivalent of a small city to its service area every year – our transmission and distribution grids are capable of serving both our current and projected loads,” said Marty Mennes, vice president of transmission and substation systems. “We have taken measures to strengthen our system, making it robust enough so that our customers have reliable and safe electricity that meet their demand, whether that demand is driven by hot summer weather or annual customer growth.”
Maintaining Reliability and Fuel Diversity
FPL serves 4.4 million homes and businesses in Florida. The company uses a diverse mix of fuels to help stabilize costs including nuclear, coal, purchased power, oil and natural gas. To keep up with customer growth and maintain the reliability of the system, FPL has invested $1.5 billion each year in the last three years and plans similar investments in the future.
FPL is Florida’s electrical grid reliability coordinator, meaning FPL’s system operations staff has constant overview of the power flowing through the state’s transmission network, and may call upon other Florida utilities to “ramp” their power plants up or down or switch load to other lines depending upon transmission line limitations. Following the Northeast blackout of August 2003, a review by the North American Electric Reliability Council – better know by its acronym NERC – recommended that many of FPL’s reliability policies and procedures be used as ‘best practices’ for other utilities to adopt.
Planning for the future
While the company expects no problems meeting customer demands this summer, the company continues to plan for the future. In its annual ten-year plans filed earlier this year with the Florida Public Service Commission, the company described its plans to increase power generating resources by approximately 27 percent over the next ten years to meet anticipated customer growth and the increasing electricity needs of its customers.
Overall, the average FPL residential customer is using 30 percent more electricity today than in 1985. Florida is one of the fastest growing states in the nation, and 10 of the fastest growing counties in the state are in FPL’s service territory. Through an effective planning process and investments in new power plants, power lines and substations over the last five years, FPL to date has kept pace with customer growth and year-round demand while maintaining a 20 percent reserve margin.
FPL’s plan focuses on adding generating capacity that increases system efficiency, improves system reliability and most importantly enhances fuel diversity to help manage costs for its customers. The company’s 2006-2015 ten year plans anticipate adding approximately 6,600 megawatts of new generation resources to its current system capacity of 24,300 megawatts.
In an effort to maintain a diverse fuel supply portfolio, the company is actively pursuing the development of advanced coal technology. FPL is in the process of evaluating potential sites to build an advanced technology coal generation plant which could begin serving customers as early as 2012. Beyond the ten-year horizon, FPL has taken steps to preserve the option to build a new nuclear power plant in the future by notifying the Nuclear Regulatory Commission earlier this year of its intent to submit a license application in 2008 for a new nuclear power plant in Florida. Filing an application does not obligate the company to build a new nuclear unit but does provide additional opportunity to evaluate this option.
Tackling High Summer Bills
Summer bills are typically higher than the rest of the year because of the heavy use of air conditioners to keep homes comfortable during hot weather months. Air conditioning accounts for more than half of a typical Florida home’s energy usage in the summer. Higher bills are driven by skyrocketing fuel prices in world fuel markets that neither FPL nor its customers have any control over. FPL is tackling high fuel increases by diversifying the fuel it burns at its power plants and recommending to customers to use energy efficiently:
- Set the thermostat at 78 degrees or higher with the thermostat fan switch on “auto.” For additional savings, raise the thermostat to 82 degrees or warmer when away from home.
- Install a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature automatically and maximize energy savings.
- Clean or replace the air conditioner’s filter every month to trim cooling costs and help the unit run more efficiently.
- Turn ceiling fans off in unoccupied rooms. A fan that runs constantly uses electricity unnecessarily.
- Replace the 60-watt porch light with a 15-watt compact fluorescent bulb. It will cost about $10, but will save nearly $50 over its 2-1/2 year life.
FPL offers an online Summer Tool Kit at www.FPL.com/summertoolkit, which includes a free Online Home Energy Survey – a personalized, in-depth analysis of a home’s energy use to uncover waste and produce detailed reports about ways to save. The survey is available in English and Spanish.