Little guy is the big loser | Dec. 21, editorial
FPL ensuring lower rates for all
This misleading editorial asserted that the settlement in Florida Power & Light's rate proceeding benefits the "biggest corporate" customers. In reality, the settlement reduces the rate increase for both residential and business customers while also helping ensure FPL can continue to provide reliability and a clean-emission profile that are among the best in the nation, award-winning customer service, and the lowest typical residential bills of Florida's 55 utilities.
Under the approved settlement, our 1,000-kilowatt-hour residential customer bill will decrease slightly in January and increase less than $1 in June 2013. Most typical commercial bills will stay flat or decrease slightly; an average small business will save about 3 percent.
Although base rates need to increase to pay for new, fuel-efficient power plants, these investments reduce the amount of fuel we use to generate power, saving our customers dollar for dollar on their electric bills. If the price of fuel rises, fuel efficiency matters even more.
Investments in fuel-efficient plants have cut our imported oil use by 98 percent and saved customers more than $5.5 billion. That's part of the reason why our 1,000-kilowatt-hour residential bill is 13 percent less today than it was in 2006.
At FPL, we're proud to provide our customers with low bills and reliable service. We're disappointed the public counsel refused to participate in meaningful settlement negotiations, but he doesn't have veto power. The PSC has the power and responsibility to rule against public counsel when, as in our case, the evidence dictates.
By approving a thoughtful compromise that will support infrastructure investments, ensure reliable service and secure low rates for all customers for four more years, it's clear the PSC made the right decision for Florida.
Tim Fitzpatrick, vice president, communications, Florida Power & Light Co.
NRA: Arm and protect | Dec. 22
Secure the buildings
The school district in Connecticut failed to do all it could to insure the safety of its students. A locked front door with a buzzer is not sufficient to guarantee the safety of those within. The officials did not answer the wake-up call from the Columbine High School massacre.
Instead of worrying about students drinking sugary soft drinks and having confidential access to birth control and abortions, maybe now school districts across the country will spend some time figuring out how to effectively secure the buildings that parents are required (by law) to send their children to.
Dave Heideman, St. Petersburg
Lanza's life shrouded in silence Dec. 24
Wake up to reality
What can drive a man to kill 20 children, six women, his own mother and himself without even leaving a note or making a statement? I think the emptiness of American culture drives people to seek escape (through drinking, pornography, drugs, video games, movies, etc.) in such excessive measures that reality takes second place to obsession.
I've had this happen on a small scale to myself when I spend too much time watching a TV show or reading a book. The characters become more real than my peers the plot becomes more real than my situation. I can easily see how even "innocent" means of escapism, taken to extreme levels, can drive a person to step out of reality and see a massacre as just another part of the game.
I think that Americans desperately need to weather storms instead of medicating ourselves out of them. When our minds have questions, we need to seek truth until we find it instead of distracting ourselves until we forget our need. Americans need to embrace reality instead of getting lost in fantasy, oftentimes not only to the harm of themselves but to others.
Hope Henchey, Brandon
Study fails to find ways to pinch pennies during coin-making process | Dec. 21
Other nations' solutions
It was interesting to read about the cost of minting pennies being over 2 cents per penny. A few years ago we were fortunate to be able to visit Australia and New Zealand. They have come up with the what I feel is the best solution. They don't use pennies. If a bill in a store or restaurant ends with a 1 or 2, the bill is rounded down to zero. If the bill ends with 3 or 4, it is rounded up to 5. If we don't use pennies, there is no need to mint them. The article indicated we mint 6 billion pennies per year. At 2 cents per penny, that's a savings of $120 million per year and there's no concern about appearance, durability, consistency or size.
Likewise they use plastic for their "paper" currency. It lasts longer and is harder to counterfeit.
In addition, the Tampa Bay area is constantly concerned about a shortage of water. All over Australia and New Zealand they use waterless urinals. I have only seen one here in the United States. How much water could be saved if waterless urinals were required for all new and replacement construction in restaurants and commercial buildings?
These are just a few ideas we saw on our trip. Our leaders need to look further to see what other countries are doing to solve these problems and not just rely on the same old ways of doing things.
Barry Kreiling, Brooksville
House scraps vote on Plan B Dec. 21
Would somebody please explain to me why the Republicans are getting blamed for the delay in Washington?
President Barack Obama wants $1.3 trillion in new revenues and will commit to only $850 billion in spending cuts. That just sounds like we are going backwards even more.
I feel these numbers should be reversed. How are we going to dig ourselves out of this $16 trillion debt — heading toward $17 trillion — with Obama's numbers? Maybe the warm trip to Hawaii will have him bringing back some more realistic numbers.
Ronald Bowman, Dunedin
Red-light camera use to rise Dec. 21
Punish illegal behavior
I think the St. Petersburg City Council and mayor got it right this time with adding more red-light cameras. It truly is a safety issue. People will learn quickly that their selfish, dangerous and illegal behavior will not be tolerated, and if the city makes any money from the lawbreakers in the process, so much the better.
David Hoover, St. Petersburg