Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mayor Works To Save Money and Energy on Street Lights

On June 26, Mayor Richard J. Kaplan appeared in front of the Public Service Commission to speak on the FP&L proposed rate increases. These increases were partly to help FP&L raise funds to invest in cleaner technology. Mayor Kaplan's testimony related to investing in low lying fruit that conserves energy, rather than produce more energy to consume.

Numerous examples were given from using CFL bulbs, to buying Energy Star appliances, among others. Credit was given to FP&L in providing a rebate to residents who buy new qualified air conditioners, and the testimony supported providing more such rebates to reduce the need for more power plants.

One issue brought up was that FP&L charges cities a flat rate for street lights (since they are not on meters). The rate is set by the Public Service Commission. Being the Federal Government is providing Energy Block Grants to Cities, specifically mentioning its use to be for providing for energy efficient street lights, LED street lights seemed to be a promising area to use the funds. They save 40 to 60% of the energy, and for the city of Lauderhill, that could mean an annual savings of $100,000 to $200,000/year.

However, in Mayor Kaplan's investigation, he found that while FP&L would allow a change to LED bulbs, the reduction in energy consumed (and thereby the reduction is energy costs) would not pass through to the cities. Instead, FP&L would keep all of the profits as a windfall.

FP&L stated that they are researching out LED lights in their own parking lights in Juno Beach, but it may take another year or so to determine if it would work, and what savings there would be. This has been a common response provided throughout the US by other utilities when confronted with the same request. However, the technology has been available for some time, and has been implemented throughout the US in numerous places. A significant amount of data is already available, though FP&L has no internal data of its own, which it is requiring.

Mayor Kaplan requested the Public Service Commission investigate this matter, and as part of the rate review of FP&L, that a lower rate charged on street lights be created if LED lights were used.

For more information see the Sun-Sentinel article:,0,7672530.story

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