A new study ranking greenhouse gas emissions from power plants on a state-by-state basis places Florida number three nationally. Within Florida, the study finds FPL's West County Energy Center, in Palm Beach County, the state's third most polluting.
FPL says the study is unfair because the numbers lack context. What matters, a company representative said, is "the rate of emissions relative to the amount of electricity [each plant] generates."
The study, by the group Environment Florida, focused on emissions of carbon dioxide, which it calls "the leading greenhouse gas driving global warming."
Drawing on 2011 data from the Department of Energy and the EPA, the study found that use of fossil fuels for electricity generation produced about 41 percent of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, that the 100 dirtiest plants were responsible for about half of all such emissions, and that Florida's power plants produce half of the state's emissions.
The group -- in alliance with other environmental organizations -- advocates federal standards limiting power plants' production of greenhouse gases. Such standards, years in the making, are to be announced this month.
Regarding FPL's Everglades plant, FPL public affairs rep Richard Gibbs offered this response:
The report misses an important data point that provides context to readers who are really trying to understand the relationship between emissions and power generation. For a power plant, what matters is the rate of emissions relative to the amount of electricity it generates. In the utility industry, the more efficient the facility is, the more it is used. On this basis, FPL's West County Energy Center -- one of the largest and cleanest natural gas-fired power plants in the nation -- is a clear winner and so is FPL's fleet as a whole.
FPL's West County Energy Center, he wrote:
... is equipped with the best available and most advanced emission control equipment. In fact, West County's carbon dioxide emissions rate is at least 30 percent lower than the U.S. electric power sector's average based on 2012 data. It also prevents the need to generate power from older, less efficient units, and in 2010 alone, it avoided the emission of more than 3 million tons of CO2. Because of our low-carbon fuel mix, FPL has one of the lowest emissions profiles among all U.S. utilities.
Bottom line: Comparisons of total emissions don't necessarily indicate which facilities are the biggest polluters.
Replying for Environment Florida, group field associate Jennifer Rubiello wrote:
The report is pretty straightforward: It just looks at total emissions of carbon pollution, and West County has the third highest in the state. If the West County plant is as efficient as FP&L claims, that's great, and they should be even more efficient. That doesn't change the bottom line of this report: power plants are the largest single source of the carbon pollution that's threatening our communities with extreme weather, they currently have no federal limits, and that has to change.
On the broader issue of climate change, South Florida local government officials came in for praise from Susan Glickman, Florida director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, an ally of Environment Florida. Pointing to the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, Glickman said local county governments were "a model of pioneering strategy."
Broward will take another step along that path Monday, when representatives of the county's cities will join with Glickman and others in a roundtable on "general climate impacts and consequences of sea level rise, municipal initiatives, the growing challenges to water resources and flood control in the region, and statewide policy and funding initiatives."
Broward Mayors' Roundtable on Climate Change Monday, September 16, 9 a.m. Events Hall of the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach Contact: 954-519-0310 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
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