Obama shows FP&L some love
President Obama tours the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia. [Associated Press]
For all the lousy publicity Florida Power & Light lately has seen about huge rate increase requests, high salaries, corporate jets and ties to regulators, the utility could not have asked or dreamed for a better event than President Barack Obama's visit to FP&L's DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center.
Standing amid 180 acres of solar panels -- the country's largest solar facility -- the president hailed FPL CEO Lew Hay for "visionary leadership" and said FPL is "a company that is doing well by doing good. I think it's a model for what we can do all across the country."
FP&L was awarded a $200 million grant toward a $578 million "smart grid" initiative that includes transmission line improvements and smart meters to help consumers monitor their power use.
"Here in this region of Florida, this project will reduce demand for electricity by up to 20 percent during the hottest summer days that stress the grid and power plants. It will provide smart meters to 2.6 million more customers. And most importantly, it will create thousands of jobs -- good jobs, by the way, that can't be outsourced -- jobs that will last and jobs that pay a decent wage," Obama said.
"On their own, the opening of this new solar plant or the installation of new smart meters or the investment in grid modernization will not be enough to meet the challenges posed by our dependence on fossil fuels. But together, we can begin to see what a clean energy future will look like."