William R. Forstchen’s 2009 novel,One Second After, depicts the United States in dire straits after the entire power grid and nearly every electronic device has been fried. Without electricity, nothing works. Fortunately, Forstchen’s story is science fiction, but, what if we were suddenly thrust into a world without electricity? Imagine our lives without lights, cell phones, computers, televisions, air-conditioners, refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, washers, and dryers. And a few other essential devices that have become so much a part of our daily lives. Scary, right?
Some of us have briefly experienced "life without electricity" during Florida's hurricanes and tropical storms. It isn’t fun. But, many people don’t even think about whether their lights will turn on when they flip the switch. It’s second nature almost, so they don’t worry about the "what ifs."
Commissioners and staff at the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) do have to worry. We don’t want to imagine you living in a world without electricity, which is why ensuring Florida’s energy future remains a critical part of our mission. As a growing state, Florida is expected to increase its energy supply over the next 20 years, even with today’s energy-efficiency measures and infrastructure improvements.
Today’s energy resources can be grouped into two basic categories: nonrenewable and renewable. Nonrenewable resources cannot be replenished. We have limited supplies of fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, and when these supplies are depleted—they are essentially gone. Renewable energy resources can be replenished in a short period of time, so supplies will not likely be depleted. The complex dynamics between the three major power generation fuels—coal, nuclear, and natural gas—remain in flux. Fears about resource scarcity, volatile markets, and difficult-to-limit emissions growth, coupled with growing customer expectations, are pushing utilities around the country to explore new generation options, including renewable resources.
Predicting future reliability requires us to plan now.
The electricity Floridians enjoy today is the result of voluminous hours of strategic planning by utilities and a thorough review and approval process by the PSC. Regulated utilities are required by law to furnish adequate, reliable electric service at a reasonable cost to customers. Meeting customer demand in uncertain economic conditions is challenging. The PSC’s mission is to balance the customers’ need and ability to pay for utility services, with the utilities' need to provide effective and efficient services.
With its foresight, the Florida Legislature passed legislation requiring all major generating electric utilities to annually submit a Ten-Year Site Plan (TYSP) to the PSC for review. TYSPs contain each utility’s projections for electric power needs, fuel requirements, and planned additional generating units (size, general location, etc.), as well as major changes or additions to transmission facilities. Any generating utility in Florida planning to build a new unit larger than 75 megawatts (MW) within the ten-year planning horizon is required to file a TYSP. Otherwise, utilities with existing generating capacities below 250 MW are exempt from this statutory requirement.
Following an annual public workshop—this year on September 14—where utilities present their plans to Commissioners, the PSC studies each utility’s TYSP to determine whether it is suitable or unsuitable. Results are included in an annual report,Review of the Ten-Year Site Plans for Florida’s Electric Utilities, which is posted on the PSC’s website. The Commission forwards this report to several agencies, including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for use in power plant siting proceedings and to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for use in preparing long-range energy supply and demand forecasts.
Electric utilities are also required to include information in their TYSPs on renewable energy produced or purchased and future plans for adding renewable energy resources. Diversity in Florida’s energy portfolio is an important consideration as we continually look at opportunities to integrate alternative energy resources.
Another legislative act, the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA), promulgated in 1980, emphasizes reducing the growth rate of weather-sensitive peak demand, reducing and controlling the growth rate of electricity consumption, and reducing the consumption of fossil fuels. During the 2008 legislative session in Florida, the Legislature amended FEECA to place greater emphasis on the pursuit of all cost-effective customer conservation and energy efficiency measures, including demand-side renewable energy systems.
FEECA requires the PSC to establish goals, at least every five years, and approve cost-effective utility programs designed to meet numeric conservation goals. Some utility programs available to customers include: 1) free energy audits, 2) rebates for energy efficiency improvements, such as insulation and windows, and 3) rebates for heat pumps, air conditioners, and lighting. The most recent FEECA goals were set by the PSC in 2014, and the utility plans were approved in July 2015.
As Florida’s energy needs continue to grow, planning will become even more essential. Fuel diversity remains a critical planning issue for the PSC as we monitor potential climate change legislation, fuel price variability, the changing capital cost of generating units, and the expansion and integration of renewable energy sources. Florida’s energy policy includes fuel diversity as a criterion to be evaluated in decision making in the planning and maintenance of the electric grid, utility TYSPs, and power plant additions. Prudent energy policy guidance is essential for ensuring that future energy plans meet future demand.
While imagined stories about "life without electricity" are entertaining, we never want to imagine the reality of you living it! The Commission will continue its diligent work of ensuring there is proper and adequate energy planning for our great State of Florida.
Electric Industry Docket No. 20160056 03/09/2016 - Joint petition to reopen and extend the term of existing territorial agreement in Columbia, Lafayette, Madison, and Suwannee Counties, by Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative and Duke Energy Florida, LLC.
Docket No. 20160059 03/15/2016 - Petition to extend economic development rider on a permanent basis, by Tampa Electric Company.
Docket No. 20160090 04/18/2016 - Petition for limited extension of experimental large business incentive rate rider, medium business incentive rate rider, and small business incentive rate rider, by Gulf Power Company.
Telecommunications Industry Docket No. 20160063 03/22/2016 - Application for certificate to provide local telecommunications service by SBA DAS & Small Cells, LLC.
Docket No. 20160064 03/22/2016 - Application for certificate to provide local telecommunications service by INDIGITAL, INC d/b/a INdigital.
Docket No. 20160139 06/01/2016 - Petition for expedited review of growth code denial by Number Pooling Administrator for the Hastings rate center, by Windstream Florida, LLC.
Water and Wastewater Industry Docket No. 20160036 02/22/2016 - Application for transfer of water and wastewater facilities to the City of Wildwood in Sumter County, and cancellation of Certificate Nos. 506-W and 440-S, by Continental Utility, Inc.
June / July Notable FPSC Orders
Electric Industry Order No. PSC-2016-0236-CO-EU
♦ Docket No:
06/13/2016 - Consummating Order PSC-16-0236-CO-EU makes Order PSC-16-0193-PAA-EU effective and final; docket shall be closed.
Order No. PSC-2016-0243-TRF-EI
♦ Docket No:
06/20/2016 - Order PSC-16-0243-TRF-EI approving GPC's petition for limited extension of experimental business incentive rate riders until 12/31/17; if a protest is filed within 21 days of issuance of the Order, the tariff shall remain in effect; if no protest, docket shall be closed upon the issuance of a CO; protest due 7/11/16.
Order No. PSC-2016-0245-CO-EI
♦ Docket No:
06/20/2016 - Consummating Order PSC-16-0245-CO-EI makes Order PSC-16-0210-TRF-EI effective and final; docket shall be closed.
Telecommunications Industry Order No. PSC-2016-0239-PAA-TX
♦ Docket No:
06/15/2016 - PAA Order PSC-16-0239-PAA-TX granting SBA Certificate of Authority No. 8890 to provide telecommunications service; order shall serve as SBA's certificate and should be retained by SBA as proof of certification; if no protest, order to become final and effective on issuance of CO; docket to be closed if order becomes final; protest due 7/6/16.
Order No. PSC-2016-0240-PAA-TX
♦ Docket No:
06/15/2016 - PAA Order PSC-16-0240-PAA-TX granting INdigital Certificate of Authority No. 8889 to provide telecommunications service; order shall serve as INdigital's certificate and should be retained by INdigital as proof of certification; if no protest, order to become final and effective on issuance of CO; docket to be closed if order becomes final; protest due 7/6/16.
Water and Wastewater Industry Order No. PSC-2016-0213-FOF-WS
♦ Docket No:
06/03/2016 - Order PSC-16-0213-FOF-WS acknowledging transfer to a governmental authority and cancelling Certificate Nos. 506-W and 440-S, effective 2/16/16; closes docket.