- Florida Power & Light (FPL) convinced state regulators to approve investments in Oklahoma gas fields last year, but a new regulatory filing from the utility shows that so far the plan is losing money for customers and producing less gas than anticipated.
- According to the Tampa Bay Times, the report filed with the Florida Public Service Commission this month shows almost $6 million in losses during 2015, with customers now expected to see about half the project's projected benefit over the span of decades.
- The FPL report, and the investment's impact on customers, could cast doubts on the plans of other utilities also considering shale gas investments.
Florida Power & Light's plan to invest in Oklahoma shale gas wells — with ratepayers taking on the risk — was touted by the utility as an opportunity to maintain a steady supply of low-cost fuel with minimal risk. But The $191 million plan has shown a $5.8 million loss so far this year, due in part to lower production and gas prices.
While FPL still maintains the project will save customers millions in the long-run, those projections have now been slashed in half. Initial estimates of $107 million in savings across 50 years have now been cut to $49.2 million.
FPL spokeswoman Sarah Gatewood told the Times the deal is still a strong one for the utility's 4.8 million customers. "What we're seeing is still a great thing for customers. We still project significant savings over the life of the project," she said,.
But others are not so sure, and the results could cast doubt on a similar plan floated by Duke to invest in gas reserves. The utility signaled last year that it also thought gas investments could be a win for Florida customers.
"[The utilities] produce these wild and crazy estimates," state Rep. Dwight Dudley, one of the state legislature's leading power company critics, told the Times. "Who has a crystal ball that can see 50 years in the future in a wildly volatile field like oil and natural gas production? It's preposterous."
The future of FPL's investment is unclear. Though the utility maintains customers will still see signifficant benefit, earlier this year state regulators allowed the company to boost its investment in gas reserves by another $500 million. FPL has requested a $750 million cap on its gas investments.