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Tuesday's letters: FPL delivers savings to customers

Published May 1, 2017

Vote for April letter of the month

Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.

Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for April by visiting the website listed below by Thursday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the web page. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.

To see the three April nominees and vote, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion.

Don't bill customers for fracking | April 27, editorial

Savings for FPL customers

We recognize energy issues are complicated, but it's frustrating when the Times continues to misrepresent energy legislation and display its bias against our company in the process.

First, the Times took a misleading report about the implementation of Amendment 4 and made it worse. The Times should read the legislation. It has earned broad, bipartisan support, including from private rooftop solar installers. The bill's commonsense consumer protection provisions won't inhibit solar — they'll actually help it.

Second, the Times criticized legislation that would enable FPL to invest in natural gas reserves outside Florida on behalf of our customers. We're a national leader in installing solar affordably, but U.S.-produced natural gas remains essential to keeping the lights on 24/7. Today, customers bear all of the risk of rising gas prices. The legislation would reduce this risk by stabilizing a small portion of fuel costs.

The Times noted FPL's initial investment showed a $5.6 million loss in 2015. True. What the Times didn't mention was this loss was due to lower-than-expected market prices — prices that simultaneously saved FPL customers more than $200 million that year. And now that market prices have risen, the project is making millions, but as a result of litigation, not for our customers.

Our approach is akin to insurance. It insulates utility customers when market fuel prices rise. If market prices stay low, customers also benefit. Similarly, insurance protects you if something bad happens. While no one likes paying a premium, everyone enjoys the protection.

The Times got one thing right — you get what you pay for. We've invested billions in Florida, producing nationally leading reliability, award-winning customer service and one of the cleanest emissions profiles anywhere — all for rates that are among the lowest in America. Does the Times really believe that happens by accident?

Eric Silagy, president and CEO, Florida Power & Light Co., Juno Beach

Mental health

Early care yields dividends

The College of Behavioral & Community Sciences at USF applauds Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn for joining mayors and governors throughout the nation proclaiming Thursday as National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. We stand with him as he urges our city to understand that addressing the complex mental health needs of children, youth and families is a critical responsibility for our nation, state and city.

The percentage of young people with mental, emotional and behavioral disorders is estimated to be between 14 and 20 percent, creating extraordinary demands on the education, child welfare and justice systems. In Florida, we must do better in responding to those demands. The Florida Policy Institute reports Florida's per capita support for mental health services ranks last among the states. In 2014, Florida provided only $36.05 per person in support of these services, less than one-third of the U.S. average of $125.90.

Positive mental health is essential to a child's healthy development from birth. Psychologist Anthony Biglan explained in his book The Nurture Effect that creating and promoting nurturing environments fosters successful development and prevents psychological and behavioral problems in children and youth. Such advances cut across multiple sectors, particularly in high-quality early childhood programs. In turn, taxpayers receive a high average return on investments, with savings in areas like improved educational outcomes, increased labor productivity and a reduction in crime.

Only through the application of policies, programs and practices aimed at eliminating risks and increasing strengths will we be able to significantly improve the lives of young people and therefore strengthen the future of our great city and state.

Mario Hernandez and Mary Armstrong, USF Department of Child & Family Studies, Tampa

Trump eases oil drilling rules | April 29

Coastal voters betrayed

It is no secret that tourism, especially from snowbirds, is the lifeblood of Florida. We are known for our pristine beaches and amazing sunsets. Suddenly, these great natural assets are put in danger by the executive order signed by President Donald Trump.

He won every single county on the coast but gives these voters who cherish the natural beauty of our coasts the middle finger. I sincerely hope everyone on the coast who voted for him seriously regrets that now.

Dave Cutler, Tampa

Jaws on deck | April 28

Relevant and refreshing

It was a refreshing change to read about the shark research occurring along Florida's Gulf Coast. It is a reminder for me of another time in Florida, just a few decades ago, when these and other important issues regarding our natural world were much more a part of our daily dialogue and effort.

Science and information like this help us understand the many unique and diverse habitats and inhabitants that surround our state and its waters, allowing us to become better stewards of these environments. Please continue with this informative trend that revolves around real people, issues and concerns.

Benedict P. Mercadante, Odessa