Advertisement
  1. Business

Florida power companies ask state regulators to let them retreat from energy-saving goals. Again.

Florida’s investor owned utilities are in the midst of a hearing that will determine their energy efficiency goals for the next five years. Pictured are solar panels on a home in Dunedin. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2018)]
Published Aug. 16

Editor's note: Tampa Electric Co.'s proposed efficiency target increased from its 2014 goal. An earlier version of this story misstated the change.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida's investor-owned utilities are asking state regulators to let them back away from prior pledges to promote energy and conservation. That could put power-saving discount programs for customers in jeopardy.

At a hearing that has stretched into its second day on Tuesday, representatives from utilities, including Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co., testified that continuing to provide programs to help customers save energy aren't cost effective.

Environmentalists say the existing energy-saving programs weren't particularly ambitious to begin with.

"Florida does not have meaningful energy efficiency programs," said Susan Glickman, director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "The big investor-owned utilities are at the hearing this week to make it worse."

The state requires publicly-owned utilities and some municipal utilities to set goals every five years for how much energy they will save by encouraging their customers cut down on their power use and make upgrades to their homes and businesses, such as buying more energy-efficient appliances.

Across the board, the state's utilities proposed benchmarks that both environmentalists and state consumer advocates called "zero" goals, for how little energy savings they produce. Tampa Electric Co. asked to increase its goal slightly for how much energy savings its programs will produce to 165 gigawatt hours annually, up about 14 percent from its last goal in 2014, Duke requested a 15 percent reduction to 166 gigawatt hours. Florida Power & Light, which serves much of South Florida, asked for a nearly complete withdrawal from prior conservation pledges, a 99 percent drop to 1.03 gigawatt hours.

Utilities hit these marks by providing their customers with programs such as discounts or rebates for home appliances or LED light bulbs. Because their goals are smaller than they were five years ago, fewer programs will be available for customers.

"This is one area where you're telling a company to come up with a program designed to tell its customers, 'Buy less of my product,'" said J.R. Kelly, lawyer with the Office of Public Counsel. Kelly's office represents utility customers before the Florida Public Service Commission.

Utilities reason that customers are already undertaking some cost-saving measures on their own.

"Changes in building codes and standards and economic conditions have increased the amount of efficiency that customers are undertaking on their own without incentive from the utility," Duke said in its filing. "These factors reduce the number of programs and measures that (Duke) can cost-effectively offer its customers."

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Jamie Harden of Creative Sign Designs and Maryann Ferenc of Mise en Place discuss priorities for the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce for the coming year. Harden is the outgoing chairman of the chamber. Ferenc is the incoming chairwoman. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times
    Leadership of the organization, formerly the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, also says it could have handled its recent name change better.
  2. The snow park in Pasco County will be known Snowcat Ridge Alpine Snow Park and is scheduled to open in November 2020. Snowcat Ridge Alpine Snow Park
    The park in rural east Pasco anticipates opening in November 2020.
  3. Renderings of the proposed Red Apple Group project show a 20-story hotel on the west side of the block, and a building of about six stories facing Central with parking, shops and offices. The 45-story condo tower rises at an angle on the east side of the block. Courtesy of Arquitectonica
    The $300 million project by Red Apple Group would include a hotel and badly needed parking space.
  4. A helicopter lands at Tampa General Hospital, one of 66 Florida hospitals that could benefit from a proposal contained in Gov. Ron DeSantis' new budget, a new analysis finds. JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Tampa General is among the hospitals that would receive money from a proposal seeking to hand out $10 million in new funding.
  5. This single-family home at 913 Pineview Avenue, in Clearwater (Monday, December 2, 2019), has seen foreclosures, flippers, upgrades and a big price swing. The current owners, Keith Lynch and Mallory Lynch, are the seventh owners of the house since 2006 - they moved here from San Francisco. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes
    A 1950s ranch-style house in Clearwater has had seven owners in 13 years.
  6. Amazon contract drive, Manuel Moreno of Pinellas Park delivers packages on Dec. 4 throughout the Pinellas Point neighborhood of St. Petersburg. BILL VARIAN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    We break down how to report a stolen package, when to contact police and whether a Ring camera is worth it.
  7. Work nears completion Wednesday on a common area inside the new USF Health building that will serve as a centerpiece of the Water Street Tampa development in downtown. The 13-story tower is set to open in January. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The long-anticipated building, part of Water Street Tampa, will welcome students on Jan. 13.
  8. Florida Public Service Commissioner Julie Brown was appointed to the board of directors for the national organization that oversees utility regulation. Pictured is Brown. | [Courtesy of the Florida Public Service Commission]
    Brown will serve as one of 20 board member for the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners.
  9. Concentrix has told the state of Florida that it plans to lay off as many as 245 employees from one of the programs it has at the Interstate Corporate Center east of Tampa. Google Street View
    Despite the layoffs, the California-based company says it is trying to attract other clients for its Tampa office.
  10. Dr. Akshay Desai, founder of now-defunct  Universal Health Care. .
    The health maintenance organization at one point had 140,000 members in 23 states.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement