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FPL says it is “reworking” deal with GRU

FPL’s solar array at Bayfront Park in Miami

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

After Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) General Manager Ed Bielarski sent an email to the Utility Advisory Board (UAB) and the city commission on Friday night, the news broke Saturday morning that a proposed deal with Florida Power & Light (FPL), to build transmission lines into Alachua County in exchange for 30 years of payments, was “paused.”

The Gainesville Sun article included the following paragraphs:

‘Bielarski had told the UAB and City Commission that FPL was asking FERC to increase the tariff from its current rate of $1.59 per megawatt to a new rate of $2.10, but expected it would be negotiated at about $1.95. That rate would translate to about $9 million annually for the 450 megawatt connection GRU wants…

‘But in the past week, Bielarski said he learned FPL now intends to seek a $2.32 rate that would have added nearly $1.5 million to the annual cost.

‘“I think that this sends an awful message in the midst of this process,” Bielarski told The Sun on Saturday morning. “It shifted the dynamic. They have to regain some credibility and come up with some options.”’

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I sent some questions to both FPL and GRU, but only FPL responded by the deadline. FPL Spokesperson Bill Orlove said, “Based on our recent discussions, we understand the concerns of GRU and are reworking our proposal that we provided.” 

Regarding the tariff rates that will be higher than projected, according to Bielarski, Orlove said, “the wholesale transmission rates that FPL charges are reviewed and approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and consistent with all wholesale transmission customers. Since FERC wholesale rates were implemented in 1993, FPL has maintained low rates while maintaining high reliability on its transmission grid.”

When asked why FPL had filed to increase the tariff to $2.10 but now is hoping for $2.32, Orlove said, “Rather than going into the numbers, I think we need to have more discussion with GRU regarding their concerns.” The spokesperson refused to have any discussion about specific rates, although the financial viability of this proposal completely depends on the amount of the payments, and those are determined by the tariff rates.

Orlove did clear up one question that has been brought up: payments to FPL will begin when the transmission lines are complete, not when the contract is signed. 

In related news, the joint UAB/City Commission meeting scheduled for January 28 has been canceled. It was originally scheduled as a budget workshop, then repurposed as a workshop on the FPL deal. 

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