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Florida Municipals Provide Affordable, Reliable and Clean Electricity

Jacob Williams's picture
General Manager and CEO Florida Municipal Power Agency

Jacob Williams is General Manager and CEO of Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA). FMPA's mission is to provide low-cost, reliable and clean power plus value-added services to its...

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  • Jan 13, 2021 6:15 pm GMT
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Electricity is essential for living. We rely on electricity to keep us cool, cook our food, charge our devices and more. Therefore, it must be reliable and affordable.

This is especially important in Florida, where power use is higher than the national average and incomes are lower than the national average.

The Florida Municipal Power Agency is an Orlando-based wholesale power agency owned by 31 municipal electric utilities in Florida. Our mission is to assist in providing customers with low-cost, reliable and clean power. What we do impacts nearly 2.6 million Floridians, so we take our job seriously.

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Affordable Power is Important Now More than Ever

Providing affordable power is FMPA’s top priority. In addition to earning less than the national average, the incomes of many Floridians are also below the state average. For about one third of these people, 10% of their disposable income goes to the electric bill.

The coronavirus pandemic has created even greater challenges. People have lost jobs or are working fewer hours, and they are struggling to pay their bills. We need to help keep money in customers’ pockets.

For the past several years, FMPA has been working to reduce its power costs. Cities who purchase their wholesale power from FMPA are seeing the benefits. Our power costs now are the lowest they have been in 16 years, and they have decreased 37% since 2009 when they were at an all-time high.

We know people will need affordable power well into the future, so we are working to keep our costs flat or even lower for the next several years. When FMPA’s power costs are low, our member utilities can pass the savings on to their customers. This was critical during the height of COVID-19, when 23 Florida municipals helped customers save $63 million over several months.

 

Keeping the Lights On

We must balance providing low-cost power with keeping the lights on. We do this by operating a young, efficient generation fleet that has been reliable over the years.

FMPA generates most of its electricity using natural gas. These baseload power generators have exceeded both national and industry averages for availability and emissions for the past 11 years.

During 2020, FMPA’s fleet was available 92% of the time or more than 337 days. The industry average for similar units is 85%. Units like these must be taken out of service at least part of the year for maintenance, so this performance is about as good as it gets.

 

Customers Want Affordable Solar

We know customers need affordable, reliable power. And we understand they want it to be clean. However, customers told us they don’t want to pay more for solar energy.

FMPA and 16 Florida municipal utilities came together to create the Florida Municipal Solar Project, one of the largest municipal-backed projects in the nation. Utility-scale solar is the most affordable option for customers.

The cost of energy from this project is approximately one-third the cost of energy from a private rooftop solar system. The cities only pay for the power they take, and there are no upfront or maintenance costs with a utility-scale project.

The group is building five solar farms totaling 1.5 million solar panels that will generate nearly 375 megawatts. The first two solar farms came online in June 2020. When the project is completed in late 2023, it will produce enough solar energy to power 75,000 typical Florida homes for roughly 7% of our energy supply.

 

The Future is Bright

FMPA and its members have made significant progress toward delivering on its mission. However, there is more work to be done. During the next several years, we’ll focus on adding even more value for our customers. This includes working to keep power costs below $70 per MWh, reduce the average outage duration time for Florida’s municipal utilities to 60 minutes and reduce carbon dioxide emission levels by 50% from 2005 levels.

Our customers are counting on us to provide affordable, reliable and clean power, and we’re committed to doing that today and into the future.

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