The Herald's Dec. 21 editorial, "Shame on Florida's Public Service Commission for putting investment risk on FPL customers," sadly misses the mark. Rather than "burden customers with the financial risk" as the Herald implies, FPL's natural gas investment will actually reduce the financial risk that customers currently face.
First, let me clarify what the PSC approved last week: an FPL investment of about $191 million -- not $750 million, as reported by the Herald -- to secure natural gas at low, stable production costs, reducing what customers have to pay fuel suppliers at highly volatile market prices. This investment is projected to save our customers more than $100 million above and beyond the cost of the investment. While critics questioned the level of FPL's projected savings, their alternative approaches all showed customer savings as well.
Clean, U.S.-produced natural gas is essential to Floridians' lives and Florida's economy. However, every year, FPL's electric customers face the substantial risk of purchasing billions of dollars of natural gas on the open, volatile markets.
In an effort to address this problem, FPL's proposed natural gas production investment would enable us to buy a small portion of the fuel we use at the source outside of Florida -- protecting against future price spikes and delivering millions of dollars in customer savings that otherwise would be profits to out-of-state gas companies and marketers.
At FPL, we work hard to protect our customers from price fluctuations in the fuel markets, and we have a strong record of successfully making investments that deliver long-term benefits and cost savings for our customers.
Since 2001, we have invested billions of dollars to modernize our power plants, enabling us to generate electricity far more efficiently than ever before. In addition to cutting our foreign oil use by 99 percent, as the Herald noted, these investments have prevented 85 million tons of carbon emissions and saved our customers $7.5 billion on fuel costs.
The bottom line is that every year we will buy, and customers will pay for, billions of dollars of natural gas produced in states like Oklahoma. But by investing in essential natural gas production at the source, we can reduce the financial risk that customers currently face and create an opportunity to further decrease what is today Florida's lowest electric bill.
To provide outstanding value and service, you have to be willing to embrace innovative thinking. Like many other pioneering investments we have made, we strongly believe our natural gas investment is another smart step forward for our customers.
Sam Forrest, is vice president of Energy Marketing & Trading at Florida Power & Light Co.