The Silver Lining to Florida’s Disappointing Energy Efficiency Efforts

Guest Blog | December 16, 2014 | Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Utilities

I have been putting off writing this blog because I have not found a positive angle to the story of Florida’s energy efficiency goals, and I was still hoping that there might be something we could extrapolate. Alas, the Florida Public Service Commission just released its final order on the Florida utilities’ energy efficiency goals for the next ten years, and there is little good to say about it.

But there must be a silver lining somewhere, right? There may be something for Duke Energy customers – but sadly, not for the rest of Floridians.

As I have already written, these goals are pathetic – Florida news outlets like Tampa Bay TimesTampa Bay Tribune, Tallahassee Democrat, and Capital News Service have noted this too. The goals are ridiculously low. Utilities claim their goals must be low because their longstanding success has diminished the opportunities for efficiency (found to be an inaccurate concept here), increasing codes and standards and low natural gas prices. Even with these excuses, the numbers do not add up, nor do they justify the meager levels of energy efficiency that the Florida utilities will achieve in upcoming years.

Right now, there is a only silver lining to this gray, Debbie Downer cloud for Duke Energy customers. If you are a Duke Energy customer, you may receive some benefit from these energy efficiency goals because Duke will achieve more than 80% of their Commission-approved ten year goal in the first five years. Since Duke is front-loading all of its effort, this will result in more energy savings sooner for Duke customers. This is the best effort of any of the utilities in the FEECA process to implement real energy efficiency savings.

Unfortunately for TECO and Gulf customers, their utility has loaded up the last five years of the ten year cycle with their energy efficiency impacts. The other small bit of good news from this decision is that the Commission increased FPL’s 10 year goal from the 59 GWh they proposed to 526 GWh, and spread FPL’s goals evenly throughout the ten years. The increase moves FPL’s efficiency impacts from 0.0% of sales in 2019 to 0.2% of sales in 2019 (cumulative). In 2019, we will all go back to the Commission and rehash the goals again.

(Side note: The Commission’s assumption that the same level of energy efficiency is available, each year of its ten year goal, doesn’t quite align with FPL’s claim that efficiency is declining because of all of their success, right? FPL Witness Koch stated, “Now ironically, but not surprisingly, FPL’s success in promoting DSM has reduced the potential for future cost-effective DSM.“)

Here it is by the numbers – as FPL likes to have data driven conversations.

Utility 2015-2019  
Duke Energy Florida 81% 19%
FPL 45% 55%
TECO 42% 58%
Gulf Power 34% 66%

 Table 1. Percentage of total energy efficiency goal achieved in first five years (2015-2019) and second five years (2019-2024) of the FEECA planning cycle, by utility, as approved by the Commission.

Basically, if you are an FPL, TECO, or Gulf customer, you are only going to get 34-45% of your utilities’ itty bitty teeny tiny FEECA goals before we revisit these goals again in five years.  One might be able to see how, if a utility does not want to implement energy efficiency, loading up your goals in the last five years is good strategy.

So Happy Holidays everyone. Don’t forget to buy your LED holiday lights. If you are a Floridian on the bubble about the cost, don’t hold your breath on your utility trying to sway you towards the efficient option.

Guest Blog
My Profile