Tag Archives: Florida Power and Light

The illusion of pipeline invincibility is shattered –WWALS Brief to FERC in Sabal Trail Rehearing

Let’s cut to the chase in the letter we filed with FERC yesterday:

11. Historic new circumstances add up

The sun never set on the British Empire. Until it did.

No one circumstance ended that Empire, but it is easy to point at major events that accelerated its demise, such as the independence of India and the Suez Incident. Its fall started after the illusion of its invincibility was shattered by Gandhi’s campaign of civil disobedience and other events such as World War II.

The illusion of invincibility of the inland colonial empire of pipelines has been shattered by recent court orders about the ACP, DAPL, and others, and especially by the shut down of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the shuttering of the Constitution Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. All of those pipelines were expected to be built, and DAPL actually was built before being ordered to shut down and empty. Now the world knows that pipelines are not inevitable.

All these pipeline projects, like Sabal Trail, were opposed by nonviolent protests and political and legal actions. All those methods of opposition, combined with the sea-change in progress to renewable energy, eventually added up to a new and significantly different world than that in which Sabal Trail was permitted or re-permitted.

The shut down of DAPL and the abandonment of ACP as well as the court rejection of tolling orders make it a new world even since FERC’s June 19, 2020, Order granting a rehearing on Sierra Club’s motion.

FERC should initiate a new [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] EIS that should take into account Sabal Trail’s own track record of leaks and sinkholes, as well as leaks and accidents from [Liquid Natural Gas] LNG export and LNG transport in rail cars, the speeding demise of fossil fuels as evidenced by record low LNG export prices and bankruptcies of frackers, the court rejections of DAPL, ACP, and tolling orders and how much of Sabal Trail could never have been built through environmental justice communities without tolling orders, the coronavirus pandemic, and the rapid rise of renewable solar, wind, and battery power as evidenced by FPL and Sabal Trail partners Duke and NextEra, as well as by FERC’s own numbers. All of those new and significant circumstances make pipelines such as Sabal Trail toxic stranded assets, dangerous to the bank accounts of their investors, as well as to the environment, justice, and human health.

Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, WWALS asks FERC to grant Sierra Club’s motion for stay of the Commission’s letter order of April 22, 2020, to halt Sabal Trail Phase II, and to commence a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) taking into account all of the above new and significant circumstances.

[Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS]
Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS

For those who are not familiar with tolling orders, they are basically how, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gives federal eminent domain to a private pipeline company, FERC lets that pipeline company take land before any payment to the landowner or even any agreement is reached. Without tolling orders, it’s not clear the FERC will ever get another pipeline built.

Here’s a longer explanation. Continue reading

FPL and JEA exiting Plant Scherer Unit 4 near Macon, GA 2020-06-26

The biggest, dirtiest, coal plant in the country is losing the owners of one of its four units: Plant Scherer, near Juliette, Georgia, north of Macon. Florida Power & Light (FPL) and the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA), are bailing out of their 76.4% and 23.6% shares of unit 4, by January 2022. Somebody else may buy into unit 4, and thus Georgia Power may keep it running. But maybe not, considering the reason for FPL and JEA exiting is that the plant is no longer economical to run. Meanwhile, where will the coal ash go?

At least maybe soon less mercury will go into the air and come down in the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers and the Okefenokee Swamp.

JEA: Plant Scherer
Photo: JEA. Plant Scherer, located near Macon, Georgia, is operated by the Georgia Power Company. Unit 4, one of the four steam units located at the site, is partially owned by JEA. Unit 4 uses coal to produce JEA’s 200 MW portion of electricity output, which is delivered to Jacksonville over large, high-voltage electric transmission lines.

This move was signaled in FPL’s Ten Year Power Plant Site Plan 2020 – 2029, Submitted To: Florida Public Service Commission, April 2020:

(i) Retirement of Existing Generating Units That Are No Longer Economic to Operate:

…the retirement of FPL’s ownership portion (approximately 76%) of the coal-fueled Scherer Unit 4 unit in Georgia is planned by January 2022. FPL’s ownership portion of this unit is approximately 630 MW.

The news is not all good. Brendan Rivers, wjct, 26 June 2020, JEA Approves Plan To Close Unit At Plant Scherer, 1 Of Nation’s Biggest Carbon Emitters,

The transaction approved by the board includes JEA entering into a Continue reading

Speakers, NextEra Quitman Solar II, Brooks County, GA 2019-08-05

The speakers against NextEra’s 150 megawatt Quitman II Solar on wooded wetlands were many and eloquent, from the very directly affected Brian Duck surrounded by solar panels to the strategic NextEra’s deadlines are not our deadlines, to the philosophical: Chad Stipe on Heritage and values, and Abigail Pope Sowell on care of the earth as our most pleasing responsibility.


      Surrounded by solar panels --Brian Duck
Brian Duck in the wheelchair on the left, about to tell the Commission how he is surrounded by NextEra’s proposed solar panels.

The speakers for let out some stunners, such as Deer will just move –Corey Haines, Biologist, Trees and roads no concern –Atty. Jonathan E. Wells, and Cancel out my wife –George Wallace.

My favorite was the allegedly impartial Daniel Geller of UGA who claimed Georgians import all our energy. I rebutted this by noting my 15 kilowatts of solar panels on my farm workshop, before telling the Commissioners some things they may not have known, about FPL in Florida and Sabal Trail burning in Quitman. Opposition attorney Waters also got Gellar to explicitly say he was not speaking for UGA.

Compliments to the Brooks County Commission for letting everybody who wanted to speak, with no restrictions on where they could be from (unlike Charlton County). There were, however, some irregularities: Continue reading

Videos: Decision, NextEra Quitman Solar II, Brooks County, GA 2019-08-05

Update 2019-08-17: WWALS videos of the speakers for and against.

The Public Hearing was so packed more people were standing outside. There was a decision, finally, but first…. The speakers against were eloquent and numerous, despite the initial confusion about could they give their 5 minutes to opposition attorney Jonathan P. Waters.

[UGA can confirm --Jonathan P. Waters]
UGA can confirm –Jonathan P. Waters

Answer: no, but the Chairman let several opposition speakers have the attorney speak for them anyway.

Various people spoke for NextEra’s proposed special exception for their 150 megawatt Quitman Solar II project in wooded wetlands.

[Economic developiment --Sherry Davidson, SGRC]
Economic developiment –Sherry Davidson, SGRC

Then the Brooks County Commission made the still-overpacked house wait through their regular agenda. Finally, Patrick Folsom moved Continue reading

NextEra wants Solar Farm on wooded wetlands in Brooks County, GA 2019-06-18

Update 2019-08-05: Decision.

NextEra wants a special exception for a 150 megawatt solar farm on wooded wetlands in Brooks County. The Brooks County Commission is holding a Public Hearing this Monday, August 5th. NextEra previously got approval for a 100 MW solar farm on already-cleared farmland. WWALS is all for solar, but not if it requires clearing forests or filling in wetlands, as it appears this application may involve.

When: 5PM, Monday, August 5, 2019

Where: 610 South Highland Street, Quitman, Georgia 31643

Event: facebook

[Rezoning Sign]
Rezoning Sign

According to the Brooks County Clerk yesterday, those who sign up before 5PM will get three minutes each to speak in the Public Hearing. See also the Documents.

Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 18 June 2019, Solar panel farm proposed in Brooks County, Continue reading

Spectra responds in pipeline certificate rulemaking 2018-08-24

As we’ve seen so often in the Sabal Trail docket, Spectra seems to be acting in place of FERC, responding yesterday to thousands of comments on FERC’s certificate rulemaking.

Spectra’s bottom line: a pipeline company’s bottom line matters more than the Fifth Amendment due process, or water, air, or safety. See page 25:

Contrary to some commenters’ arguments, the Commission’s public interest determinations are not rendered insufficient under the Fifth Amendment public use requirement because the Commission considers precedent agreements among applicants and affiliates to be evidence of public benefits.

Spectra repeatedly argues that FERC does not have authority to consider hardly anything other than whether the pipeline company has customers, yet FERC has authority to give eminent domain to private corporations and to let them gouge through our lands and under our rivers without local agreement or payment first.

Page 9: Tolling Orders, Pages

In this election year, you can ask every candidate for statehouse or Congress whether they support Continue reading

Solar grows in Georgia and Florida

Georgia Power, local electric cooperatives, Duke Energy, FPL: all are spending on solar power. However, Georgia and Florida remain behind New Jersey and Massachusetts in deployed solar megawatts. It’s an election year, and this should be an issue.

FPL is making a big show of solar power in Florida, but are it and sibling utilities actually moving ahead very fast? Jay Koziarz, miami.curbed.com, 30 July 2018, City vote clears path for retractable ‘solar halo’ atop Bayfront Amphitheater: The urban installation will be one of the largest of its kind in the country

Solar halo atop Bayfront Amphitheater
Bayfront Park Management Trust

Miami city commissioners have backed a move to construct a Continue reading

FERC and Sabal Trail admit Sierra Club won 2018-07-03

One week after losing a jury trial in the U.S. Middle District Court of Georgia, the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline and its purveyor of federal eminent domain, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), declined to appeal their huge DC District Court loss of last August.

Sierra Club, Press Release, 3 July 2018, Fracked Gas Pipeline Company and Federal Regulator Will Not Seek Supreme Court Review of Landmark Ruling: Existing Decision Means FERC Must Consider Downstream Greenhouse Gas Emissions,

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Neither the builders of the fracked gas Sabal Trail Pipeline nor the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will ask the Supreme Court to review a landmark ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from last year. That decision required FERC to consider the effects of downstream greenhouse gases when deciding whether to approve proposed pipelines that transport gas.

In response, Sierra Club Staff Attorney Elly Benson released the following statement:

Elly Benson, Sierra Club Attorney
Elly Benson, Sierra Club Staff Attorney

“We are glad to see FERC accept its responsibility to consider greenhouse gas emissions from burning transported gas at downstream power plants. These dirty, dangerous, and unnecessary pipelines pose a threat to our communities and climate. They should not be proposed, much less built, at a time when clean, renewable energy sources are abundant and affordable. We will continue to monitor the pipeline permitting process to ensure the law is followed.”

The pipeline industry press was not thrilled. Charlie Passut, Natural Gas Intelligence, 5 July 2018, FERC Declines to Appeal Landmark GHG Case to Supreme Court, Continue reading

Landowner wins over Sabal Trail in jury trial, jsq on Scott James radio 2018-06-29

The just compensation for property takings required by the Fifth Amendment is not “just” compensation, said Scott James. And a jury of peers of a landowner told Sabal Trail to pay up five times what it offered for an easement for its fracked gas pipeline.

“…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
—Fifth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Scott said this jury award was big news and asked if it was just compensation. I said yes, front page in the Valdosta Daily Times.


VDT front page

And five times is more just than before. But how is a one-time payment Continue reading

FPL wants Martin-Riviera Pipeline folded into FSC

Update 2019-03-11: And of course FERC and FPSC approved it, this extension of FSC to within 300 feet of an LNG export port.

What is FPL hiding in all that confidential and redacted material in a 117-page petition for approval of folding FPL’s Martin-Riviera Pipeline into Sabal Trail’s downstream Florida Southeast Connection (FSC)? This has been planned at least two years. on the excuse of lower rates for customers. Yet FPL redacted what FSC would charge and future cost projections, so FPL’s customers and the rest of the public affected by these unnecessary pipelines have no way of knowing what they would cost, and emergency responders can’t see what’s on this pipeline.

Indiantown to Riviera Beach
Indiantown to Riviera Beach, in FERC 20180309-5230, Docket CP18-108.

Eagle-eye WWALS member Janet Barrow spotted this Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) Docket 20170231 (OPEN) — Petition for approval to transfer Martin- Riviera Lateral Pipeline to Florida Southeast Connection and implement associated rate adjustments, by Florida Power & Light Company.

FPSC let FPL redact most anything it wanted to, in Continue reading