Earlier this month FPL took down the Port Everglades power plant to make way for a new natural gas powered plant. In conjunction with the demolition they embarked on an aggressive advertising campaign to tout their energy independence. I’m confused… From what are we becoming independent?!
FPL has spent countless dollars on paid Facebook advertising and billboards throughout Florida to pat themselves on the back for becoming independent. (side note: this advertising money comes from you, the ratepayer.) They would make you believe that we are becoming less reliant on foreign oil with this fantastic new plant. One FPL Facebook ‘friend’ quipped that the new plant will run on magical unicorn dust. While the new plant will run on relatively clean natural gas, let’s look at the current ways FPL produces power and what the new plant is replacing.
- Natural Gas, 72% of production, Source: USA
- Nuclear, 15% of production, Source: USA
- Purchased Power, 8% of production, Source: USA
- Coal, 4% of production, Source: USA
- Renewables, <1% of production, Source: USA
- Oil, <1% of production, Source: Foreign
What FPL is really doing is shifting production from one domestic fuel resource to another that is more abundant, cleaner, cheaper, and more socially acceptable. That is all good news, and I applaud them for the effort. However, implying that this shift makes us somehow more independent is a stretch, if not an obfuscation of the truth. When only 0.39% of the fuel mix currently comes from foreign sources*, it is disingenuous to say that we are increasing our independence.
FPL is continuing its reliance on non-renewable fuel resources, just shifting our dependence to a different finite resource. While relatively cheap, abundant, and clean in the short-term, this continued shift to natural gas in FPL’s fuel mix is doing nothing to create real energy independence, and further entrenches the utility as the sole source from whom we can purchase power. In my mind, this does nothing than make us more dependent – dependent on a utility monopoly and a resource that will be exhausted in a few generations.
* Note: I’m excluding Canada as a foreign source, although some of the fuel mix surely comes from our good friends to the north.