Q&A – FPL Buries Power Lines And You'll Pay For Them

Today’s entry - Brian, This question came to mind when I heard a few weeks ago that FPL was approved to raise rates in order to bury a bunch of power lines in South Florida "If FPL buys into the whole man-made global warming arguments, why would they spend so much money burying lines when they are only going to end up underwater once the sea levels rise and SouthFlorida is under water? Wouldn't it make more sense to RAISE and fortify the lines and poles, instead?" 

Either, they truly believe in rising sea levels and are inept/just don't care about spending the money to bury lines, OR they know it's a bunch of crap and their true beliefs are shown by what they're doing to bury the lines.

Bottom Line: Going forward it doesn’t matter what FPL does or doesn’t think about sea level rise. If they want to continue to operate in Florida, they’ll have to bury the lines. In large part due to the early success of FPL’s three-year initiative that’s already resulted in 40% of FPL’s footprint being made underground. The state of Florida passed bi-partisan legislation that mandates the complete undergrounding of power lines over the next thirty years. Your point about sea level rise is well taken. Funny how when real-world decisions have to be made impacting the future based on facts, the doomsday projections aren’t the priority. Regardless, this year, the state acted on 80% of increased reliability of underground power lines already in use in Florida. That’s a pretty powerful number illustrating the value in making the commitment to underground all lines statewide going forward. 

Now to your point, it’s expensive. The average cost per customer to date is $651. That’s been the cost FPL passed on to customers who opted into their original program. But the costs themselves vary wildly based on location. The costs for the most expensive areas are eight times the cheapest. The total cost statewide in today’s dollars is around $30 billion. Not cheap. But then again, when you consider that just hurricane Irma alone caused $50 billion in damage, the number doesn’t seem as large. 

Given that it’s going to be Florida’s policy moving forward the debate isn’t effectual at this point, but the value proposition seems to be there. Would the average Floridian pay an extra $650, or so, over time to reduce power outages by 80%? From me, it’s a yes, and I imagine many would agree.

Submit your question using one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

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Photo by: LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images

 

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