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More On Renewable Energy Policy

Please see if you can get a direct answer from the candidates on this and let me know what they tell you.

Should the city pay more than a competitive price for electricity? YES or NO. If yes, why?

In unanimously approving the renewable energy policy all five current commission members including Mayoral Candidate Sheila DeCiccio say the answer is YES. What is the position of each candidate?

Shiela DeCiccio – – Mayor (ask her to explain why)
Michael Cameron – – Mayor
Stockton Reeves – – Commission Seat 2
Craig Russell – – Commission Seat 2
Jason Johnson – – Commission Seat 2

This follows up on my recent post on this subject.

The policy calls for the city to buy up to 80% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2035, 100% by 2050. Mayor Phil Anderson’s comments make clear this commission wants excess electric company profits expected when undergrounding is complete in 2030 to support increased electric rates to pay for renewable energy that is not price competitive. The city consultant’s study shows our cost of energy at least doubling under various renewable scenarios when compared to competitively priced energy.

Overpaying for renewable energy means that the $7 million annual expected excess profit after 2030 (about $500 per year per electric customer) will support intangible, presumed, and unmeasurable climate promises. This money should instead be applied to tangible benefits for electric customers, including such policies as rate reduction and city wide decorative street lighting.

There is no current need for this renewable policy other than to make a political point with the hope of binding future commissions. However, the positions of the candidates on the principles involved are important as two of them will be in a position to affirm, change, or repeal the policy.

Some important aspects of this issue are:

  • The renewable policy can be changed or repealed by any commission in the future.
  • The city’s master electric power contract expires in 2027, meaning the people we elect now will likely oversee terms of new contracts.
  • The city has already committed to buy 30MW of solar power for 20 years at competitive prices, meaning we have already made a material commitment to renewables on reasoned terms.
  • Any contract for more renewable energy sources is likely to be under long term contracts, meaning any agreement to pay more than a competitive price will burden our residents for many years.
  • Large scale renewable investments will happen with or without Winter Park’s participation, meaning any possible climate benefits will occur regardless of this Winter Park renewable policy.

I fully support current city contracts to buy 30MW of continuous power (whenever the sun shines) at competitive prices from three utility scale solar fields in Florida coming online later this year and next. This is about 30% of our peak MW demand and the maximum direct solar power we can buy, as 30MW approximates our lowest constant demand. If we bought more directly from solar fields, we would be paying for power that was never used at times when demand drops below the contracted MW purchase.

However, overpaying to buy additional renewable energy sacrifices electric customer money at the alter of climate change with no tangible benefit for our residents, and as such, fails any standard of fiduciary duty.

Let’s see if our candidates can express themselves clearly on this issue.

Should the city pay more than a competitive price for electricity? YES or NO. If yes, why?

Posted in Policy.

4 Responses

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  1. Pitt Warner says

    This commission’s counterfactual hopes and dreams energy targets are pathetic. Banking on hydrogen combustion turbine energy production breakthroughs is childish. The future energy policy, after undergrounding is complete, should be…”provide reliable electric service at the lowest price, regardless of how it was produced.”

    • Peter Weldon says

      My reading of the consultant’s study is that this commission expects to buy more solar energy delivered from batteries, given that we are already contracted for all the direct solar we can buy without paying for energy we don’t use. This will require very non-cost effective batteries and at least 3 times the utility scale solar acreage to accumulate sufficient energy stored in batteries to deliver the needed MW to get to 80% renewable. All this, as you note, is a dream offered now just to make a political point.

  2. Marie Neish says

    How can we stop this?

    • Peter Weldon says

      We need to convince the commission to change the policy to one where the city will only purchase electric power at the lowest price in the open market. This also involves reliability of delivery, contract duration, and other important aspects of a supply contract. If the commission will not change their mind, we need to organize a petition to force a voter referendum on the policy, that is, put into our laws the requirement for market pricing.

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