The last few months have seen a lot of focus on Florida Power & Light (FPL). However, local residents might want to shift their gaze a little higher up the corporate chain—all the way up to FP&L’s parent company, NextEra Energy—if they want real answers to the baffling blow of Florida’s explosive utility rates.
NextEra has been generating its own headlines lately, and anyone worried about FPL’s debilitating utility rates should be paying close attention to what’s being said. A lot of it has to do with energy, but the machine that drives what’s happening in Florida is really the bigger story.
Here’s a quick timeline of recent events, to help you catch up on—and clue into—who’s really pulling the strings—and toward what end.
January 12, 2022
E&E News reports that the Florida legislature is mulling over a bill that would muffle rooftop solar credits in Florida. The author anticipates the legislation (S.B. 1024) would “shift the trajectory of the solar industry” in the Sunshine State, crippling industry businesses and dampening rooftop solar adoption, cutting solar customers’ returns for excess solar and likely generating fixed charges. Despite opposition from homeowners, local solar companies, and clean energy supporters, the bill passed a Senate committee. The author also comments that with FLP’s support, the bill stood a strong chance of passing.
When the Miami Herald ran a story exposing NextEra’s and FPL’s hand in crafting the bill and its connection to the legislation’s sponsor (Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley), FPL created a website dedicated to discrediting the newspaper’s integrity.
January 24, 2022
CBS Miami alerts Floridians about a bill winding its way through Florida’s legislature. Backed by FPL, the bill aims to crush financial incentives for installing solar panels. Environmental groups and other opponents of the legislation warn that the bill would pull the plug overnight on the state’s young, but quickly growing, green power industry.
January 27, 2022
Miami Herald reports that NextEra investigated rumors of FPL’s connection to a “dark money scheme” to draw votes away from Senate Democratic candidates. The parent company said it investigated FPL and reportedly found no evidence of illegal maneuverings or wrongdoing on part of the state’s largest electric company.
February 1, 2022
ABC 3 WEAR-TV aired the news that Levin Papantonio Rafferty attorney Mike Papantonio had penned a letter to the Florida Public Service Commission. The letter speaks to the “unconscionable” rate hikes that FLP customers were facing and alludes to launching a radio and television PSA campaign to expose the “pillage of North Florida” by “energy corporation bandits.”
February 2, 2022
WKRG News 5 and ABC 3 WEAR-TV both interviewed Papantonio about the letter he sent to Florida’s Public Service Commission. Papantonio said the rate changes amount to a “major hustle.” The PSC’s response to Papantonio’s letter appears in the news coverage. The response, which opens with an assertion of the Florida PSC’s “transparent process,” does not pass muster with Papantonio. The attorney challenges the commission’s allowing FL&P to “front load” a rate change that is now crippling families.
February 8, 2022
Papantonio spoke to Rick Outzen on WCOA’s “Real News.” Papantonio directly addressed the role that NextEra’s cozy friendship with Florida lawmakers played in FPL’s rate increases. As a $147 billion asset company that made $17 billion last year, it’s easy for the energy giant to spread money around in key political circles to get what it wants, leaving politicians “jumping at [NextEra’s] every beck and call.” Read more about the maniacal maze of money, power, and your utility bill on Levin Papantonio Rafferty’s Public Service Announcement page.