Reliability: How Florida is Protecting You from Extreme Weather

We are all aware of the winter storms over the last week that have crippled many parts of the country, forcing rolling – and sometimes prolonged – blackouts in several states, wreaking havoc on the electric and water infrastructure in Texas and leaving hundreds of thousands without power in bitter cold and icy conditions in a historic crisis. In addition, severe generation constraints in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) regions have resulted in extraordinarily high fuel prices, placing significant financial burdens on many public power utilities in those regions with some small public power communities exhausting their entire year’s fuel budget in one week. 

There are an incredible number of complex factors that contributed to the ongoing crisis, including unprecedented extreme and record-breaking cold weather driving high demand, record fuel prices, the failure of multiple types of generation sources, including wind, coal and natural gas, deregulation in Texas and mandates from regional grid operators, and more. All this on top of a pandemic. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who have been impacted. 

Florida’s Power Supply – Preventive Action for the Future

Electricity is a necessity for the health and safety of all our customers, and it is our responsibility to provide it as reliably and affordably as possible while protecting our environment. 

Florida could be exposed to an extreme cold snap with loads dramatically increasing; however, our exposure to intermittent generation and low energy supply is significantly less than in Texas. Utilities in Florida plan for extreme events, have designated reserve energy supply and operate in a regulated power market that emphasizes reliability and affordability.

Florida’s electric utilities currently get about 2% of their energy from solar. Based on utility-planned solar additions, that number will increase to 7%–10% by 2027. While Florida is called the “Sunshine State”, summer thunderstorms occur frequently, reducing the amount of available solar energy. As Florida utilities add more solar, we will continue to invest in backup generation within Florida from natural gas, oil and batteries (if they become cost-effective). 

Florida also has a planning reserve of 15%-20%, and utilities must ensure units can perform at their peak. Given the increase in solar over the next seven years, Florida’s electric utilities are collectively considering raising their reserve margins to proactively plan for intermittency in renewable generation.

Florida’s municipal electric utilities, including Beaches Energy, are bringing significantly more solar energy into our generation mix. At the same time, we must be proactive to ensure the system continues to be reliable and that electricity is affordable. We understand the impacts to our customers and have time to enhance the supply requirements to ensure Floridians have low-cost, reliable and clean power. And, we look forward to delivering on our mission.