Citing deteriorating regulatory environment, FPL halts billions of dollars in capital expenditures in Florida
Jan 13, 2010
JUNO BEACH, Fla. – Citing a negative decision on its rate proposal by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) today as further evidence of a deteriorating regulatory and business environment, Florida Power & Light Company said it will immediately suspend activities on projects representing approximately $10 billion of investment over the next five years in Florida’s energy infrastructure.
The projects would have created an estimated 20,000 direct and indirect construction and related jobs over the next five years.
FPL said it will immediately suspend activities on:
Development of two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point beyond what is required to receive a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission;
Modernization of the Riviera Beach and Cape Canaveral plants;
The proposed Florida EnergySecure natural gas pipeline; and,
Numerous discretionary infrastructure projects targeting improvements in efficiency and reliability within FPL’s power generation, transmission and distribution units.
FPL will also assess the cost structure of its ongoing operations and review other capital investments for appropriate reductions. The company expects to make further decisions on all of these matters no later than the end of the second quarter.
Historically, FPL has been one of Florida’s largest sources of capital investment, generating tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues tied to its annual investments in the state’s electrical infrastructure.
FPL Group Chairman and CEO Lew Hay issued the following statement:
“We understand that there is never a good time to raise base rates. However, our proposal provided a unique opportunity to lower customers’ total bills while simultaneously investing billions of dollars in our state for upgraded and more efficient electrical infrastructure – all of which would have significant benefits for our customers. Needless to say, we are very disappointed for our customers and the state that this opportunity appears lost.
“This decision was about politics, not economics, and unfortunately it comes at a time when our state urgently needs jobs and investment. In addition, the decision will likely increase customer costs and diminish reliability over the long term because the commission failed to recognize the true cost of providing reliable service to customers.
“Historically, Florida has enjoyed a constructive regulatory environment, which has allowed us to invest billions of dollars to benefit FPL customers while having reasonable confidence that our investors would be allowed to earn fair returns.
“Our past investments have provided FPL customers with bills that are 10 percent lower than the national average and the lowest of the state’s 54 utilities, reliability that is 47 percent better than the national average, and a power generation fleet that is among the cleanest and most efficient in the country.
“Florida’s recent cold weather showed us the benefits of $10 billion in investments over the past five years in power generation and infrastructure, allowing us to reliably maintain service even while operating at near-maximum capacity over a period of days, but it also vividly illustrated the need to continue to invest in the electrical infrastructure.
“Unfortunately, today’s decision will simply reinforce investor perceptions that the regulatory climate in Florida continues to deteriorate and is increasingly hostile to investment. Investments have to be made in the expectation of fair regulatory treatment. By the time we ask for rate recovery, the money – in this case billions of dollars – already has been spent and sunk. Absent confidence in fair regulatory treatment, we believe providers of capital will be more reluctant to invest.
“However, the PSC has spoken. Likewise, so have our investors, who have unfortunately seen what we believe is more than $1 billion of value in their FPL Group stock destroyed over the course of the rate proceeding. As a result, we believe that they do not want us to continue investing capital in Florida unless and until the regulatory and business environment improves. Many of those investors are retirees living on fixed incomes right here in Florida.
“Our business is heavily dependent on the confidence of investors in both the quality of the company and the fairness of regulators. As a result of today’s decision, we believe that FPL will see an increased cost to attract capital, which in the end will lead to higher costs for our customers.”
FPL Group: Energy Solutions for the Next Era
FPL Group, Inc. (NYSE: FPL) is a leading clean energy company with 2008 revenues of more than $16 billion, approximately 39,000 megawatts of generating capacity, and more than 15,000 employees in 27 states and Canada. Headquartered in Juno Beach, Fla., FPL Group’s principal subsidiaries are NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, the largest generator in North America of renewable energy from the wind and sun, and Florida and is one of the largest rate-regulated electric utilities in the country. Through its subsidiaries, FPL Group collectively operates the third largest U.S. nuclear power generation fleet. For more information about FPL Group companies, visit these Web sites: www.FPLGroup.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com, www.FPL.com
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Cautionary Statements And Risk Factors That May Affect Future Results
In connection with the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (Reform Act), FPL Group, Inc. (FPL Group) and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) are hereby providing cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause FPL Group's or FPL's actual results to differ materially from those projected in forward-looking statements (as such term is defined in the Reform Act) made by or on behalf of FPL Group and FPL in this press release, on their respective websites, in response to questions or otherwise. Any statements that express, or involve discussions as to, expectations, beliefs, plans, objectives, assumptions, future events or performance, climate change strategy or growth strategies (often, but not always, through the use of words or phrases such as will, will likely result, are expected to, will continue, is anticipated, aim, believe, could, should, would, estimated, may, plan, potential, projection, target, outlook, predict and intend or words of similar meaning) are not statements of historical facts and may be forward-looking. Forward-looking statements involve estimates, assumptions and uncertainties. Accordingly, any such statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to, and are accompanied by, the following important factors (in addition to any assumptions and other factors referred to specifically in connection with such forward-looking statements) that could cause FPL Group's or FPL's actual results to differ materially from those contained or implied in forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of FPL Group and FPL.
Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which such statement is made, and FPL Group and FPL undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances, including unanticipated events, after the date on which such statement is made, unless otherwise required by law. New factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for management to predict all of such factors, nor can it assess the impact of each such factor on the business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained or implied in any forward-looking statement.
The following are some important factors that could have a significant impact on FPL Group's and FPL's operations and financial results, and could cause FPL Group's and FPL's actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those discussed or implied in the forward-looking statements:
FPL Group and FPL are subject to complex laws and regulations and to changes in laws and regulations as well as changing governmental policies and regulatory actions. FPL holds franchise agreements with local municipalities and counties, and must renegotiate expiring agreements. These factors may have a negative impact on the business and results of operations of FPL Group and FPL.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to complex laws and regulations, and to changes in laws or regulations, with respect to, among other things, allowed rates of return, industry and rate structure, operation of nuclear power facilities, construction and operation of generation facilities, construction and operation of transmission and distribution facilities, acquisition, disposal, depreciation and amortization of assets and facilities, recovery of fuel and purchased power costs, decommissioning costs, return on common equity and equity ratio limits, transmission reliability and present or prospective wholesale and retail competition. This substantial and complex framework exposes FPL Group and FPL to increased compliance costs and potentially significant monetary penalties for non‑compliance. The Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) has the authority to disallow recovery by FPL of any and all costs that it considers excessive or imprudently incurred. The regulatory process generally restricts FPL's ability to grow earnings and does not provide any assurance as to achievement of earnings levels.
FPL Group and FPL also are subject to extensive federal, state and local environmental statutes, rules and regulations, as well as the effect of changes in or additions to applicable statutes, rules and regulations that relate to, or in the future may relate to, for example, air quality, water quality, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide emissions, waste management, marine and wildlife mortality, natural resources, health, safety and renewable portfolio standards that could, among other things, restrict or limit the output of certain facilities or the use of certain fuels required for the production of electricity and/or require additional pollution control equipment and otherwise increase costs. There are significant capital, operating and other costs associated with compliance with these environmental statutes, rules and regulations, and those costs could be even more significant in the future.
FPL Group and FPL operate in a changing market environment influenced by various legislative and regulatory initiatives regarding regulation, deregulation or restructuring of the energy industry, including, for example, deregulation or restructuring of the production and sale of electricity, as well as increased focus on renewable and clean energy sources and reduction of carbon emissions. FPL Group and its subsidiaries will need to adapt to these changes and may face increasing costs and competitive pressure in doing so.
FPL Group's and FPL's results of operations could be affected by FPL's ability to negotiate or renegotiate franchise agreements with municipalities and counties in Florida.
The operation and maintenance of power generation, transmission and distribution facilities involve significant risks that could adversely affect the results of operations and financial condition of FPL Group and FPL.
The operation and maintenance of power generation, transmission and distribution facilities involve many risks, including, for example, start up risks, breakdown or failure of equipment, transmission and distribution lines or pipelines, the inability to properly manage or mitigate known equipment defects throughout FPL Group's and FPL's generation fleets and transmission and distribution systems, use of new or unproven technology, the dependence on a specific fuel source, failures in the supply or transportation of fuel, the impact of unusual or adverse weather conditions (including natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and droughts), and performance below expected or contracted levels of output or efficiency. This could result in lost revenues and/or increased expenses, including, for example, lost revenues due to prolonged outages and increased expenses due to monetary penalties or fines, replacement equipment costs or an obligation to purchase or generate replacement power at potentially higher prices to meet contractual obligations. Insurance, warranties or performance guarantees may not cover any or all of the lost revenues or increased expenses. Breakdown or failure of an operating facility of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC (NextEra Energy Resources) may, for example, prevent the facility from performing under applicable power sales agreements which, in certain situations, could result in termination of the agreement or subject NextEra Energy Resources to incurring a liability for liquidated damages.
The operation and maintenance of nuclear facilities involves inherent risks, including environmental, health, regulatory, terrorism and financial risks, that could result in fines or the closure of nuclear units owned by FPL or NextEra Energy Resources, and which may present potential exposures in excess of insurance coverage.
FPL and NextEra Energy Resources own, or hold undivided interests in, nuclear generation facilities in four states. These nuclear facilities are subject to environmental, health and financial risks such as on-site storage of spent nuclear fuel, the ability to dispose of spent nuclear fuel, the ability to maintain adequate reserves for decommissioning, potential liabilities arising out of the operation of these facilities, and the threat of a possible terrorist attack. Although FPL and NextEra Energy Resources maintain decommissioning trusts and external insurance coverage to minimize the financial exposure to these risks, it is possible that the cost of decommissioning the facilities could exceed the amount available in the decommissioning trusts, and that liability and property damages could exceed the amount of insurance coverage.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has broad authority to impose licensing and safety-related requirements for the construction and operation and maintenance of nuclear generation facilities. In the event of non-compliance, the NRC has the authority to impose fines or shut down a unit, or both, depending upon its assessment of the severity of the situation, until compliance is achieved. NRC orders or new regulations related to increased security measures and any future safety requirements promulgated by the NRC could require FPL and NextEra Energy Resources to incur substantial operating and capital expenditures at their nuclear plants. In addition, if a serious nuclear incident were to occur at an FPL or NextEra Energy Resources plant, it could result in substantial costs. A major incident at a nuclear facility anywhere in the world could cause the NRC to limit or prohibit the operation or licensing of any domestic nuclear unit.
In addition, potential terrorist threats and increased public scrutiny of utilities could result in increased nuclear licensing or compliance costs which are difficult or impossible to predict.
The construction of, and capital improvements to, power generation and transmission facilities involve substantial risks. Should construction or capital improvement efforts be unsuccessful or delayed, the results of operations and financial condition of FPL Group and FPL could be adversely affected.
The ability of FPL Group and FPL to complete construction of, and capital improvement projects for, their power generation and transmission facilities on schedule and within budget are contingent upon many variables that could delay completion, increase costs or otherwise adversely affect operational and financial results, including, for example, limitations related to transmission interconnection issues, escalating costs for materials and labor and environmental compliance, delays with respect to permits and other approvals, and disputes involving third parties, and are subject to substantial risks. Should any such efforts be unsuccessful or delayed, FPL Group and FPL could be subject to additional costs, termination payments under committed contracts, loss of tax credits and/or the write-off of their investment in the project or improvement.
The use of derivative contracts by FPL Group and FPL in the normal course of business could result in financial losses or the payment of margin cash collateral that adversely impact the results of operations or cash flows of FPL Group and FPL.
FPL Group and FPL use derivative instruments, such as swaps, options, futures and forwards, some of which are traded in the over‑the‑counter markets or on exchanges, to manage their commodity and financial market risks, and for FPL Group to engage in trading and marketing activities. FPL Group could recognize financial losses as a result of volatility in the market values of these derivative instruments, or if a counterparty fails to perform or make payments under these derivative instruments and could suffer a reduction in operating cash flows as a result of the requirement to post margin cash collateral. In the absence of actively quoted market prices and pricing information from external sources, the valuation of these derivative instruments involves management's judgment or use of estimates. As a result, changes in the underlying assumptions or use of alternative valuation methods could affect the reported fair value of these derivative instruments. In addition, FPL's use of such instruments could be subject to prudence challenges and, if found imprudent, cost recovery could be disallowed by the FPSC.
FPL Group provides full energy and capacity requirement services, which include load-following services and various ancillary services, primarily to distribution utilities to satisfy all or a portion of such utilities’ power supply obligations to their customers. The supply costs for these transactions may be affected by a number of factors, such as weather conditions, fluctuating prices for energy and ancillary services, and the ability of the distribution utilities’ customers to elect to receive service from competing suppliers, which could negatively affect FPL Group’s results of operations from these transactions.
FPL Group's competitive energy business is subject to risks, many of which are beyond the control of FPL Group, including, but not limited to, the efficient development and operation of generating assets, the successful and timely completion of project restructuring activities, the price and supply of fuel and equipment, transmission constraints, competition from other generators, including those using new sources of generation, excess generation capacity and demand for power, that may reduce the revenues and adversely impact the results of operations and financial condition of FPL Group.
There are various risks associated with FPL Group's competitive energy business. In addition to risks discussed elsewhere, risk factors specifically affecting NextEra Energy Resources' success in competitive wholesale markets include, for example, the ability to efficiently develop and operate generating assets, the successful and timely completion of project restructuring activities, maintenance of the qualifying facility status of certain projects, the price and supply of fuel (including transportation) and equipment, transmission constraints, the ability to utilize production tax credits, competition from other and new sources of generation, excess generation capacity and shifting demand for power. There can be significant volatility in market prices for fuel, electricity and renewable and other energy commodities, and there are other financial, counterparty and market risks that are beyond the control of NextEra Energy Resources. NextEra Energy Resources' inability or failure to effectively hedge its assets or positions against changes in commodity prices, interest rates, counterparty credit risk or other risk measures could significantly impair FPL Group's future financial results. In keeping with industry trends, a portion of NextEra Energy Resources' power generation facilities operate wholly or partially without long-term power purchase agreements. As a result, power from these facilities is sold on the spot market or on a short-term contractual basis, which may increase the volatility of FPL Group's financial results. In addition, NextEra Energy Resources' business depends upon power transmission and natural gas transportation facilities owned and operated by others; if transmission or transportation is disrupted or capacity is inadequate or unavailable, NextEra Energy Resources' ability to sell and deliver its wholesale power or natural gas may be limited.
FPL Group's ability to successfully identify, complete and integrate acquisitions is subject to significant risks, including, but not limited to, the effect of increased competition for acquisitions resulting from the consolidation of the power industry.
FPL Group is likely to encounter significant competition for acquisition opportunities that may become available as a result of the consolidation of the power industry in general. In addition, FPL Group may be unable to identify attractive acquisition opportunities at favorable prices and to complete and integrate them successfully and in a timely manner.
FPL Group and FPL participate in markets that are often subject to uncertain economic conditions, which makes it difficult to estimate growth, future income and expenditures.
FPL Group and FPL participate in markets that are susceptible to uncertain economic conditions, which complicate estimates of revenue growth. Because components of budgeting and forecasting are dependent upon estimates of revenue growth in the markets FPL Group and FPL serve, the uncertainty makes estimates of future income and expenditures more difficult. As a result, FPL Group and FPL may make significant investments and expenditures but never realize the anticipated benefits, which could adversely affect results of operations. The future direction of the overall economy also may have a significant effect on the overall performance and financial condition of FPL Group and FPL.
Customer growth and customer usage in FPL's service area affect FPL Group's and FPL's results of operations.
FPL Group's and FPL's results of operations are affected by the growth in customer accounts in FPL's service area and by customer usage. Customer growth can be affected by population growth. Customer growth and customer usage can be affected by economic factors in Florida and elsewhere, including, for example, job and income growth, housing starts and new home prices. Customer growth and customer usage directly influence the demand for electricity and the need for additional power generation and power delivery facilities at FPL.
Weather affects FPL Group's and FPL's results of operations, as can the impact of severe weather. Weather conditions directly influence the demand for electricity and natural gas, affect the price of energy commodities, and can affect the production of electricity at power generating facilities.
FPL Group's and FPL's results of operations are affected by changes in the weather. Weather conditions directly influence the demand for electricity and natural gas, affect the price of energy commodities, and can affect the production of electricity at power generating facilities, including, but not limited to, wind, solar and hydro-powered facilities. FPL Group's and FPL's results of operations can be affected by the impact of severe weather which can be destructive, causing outages and/or property damage, may affect fuel supply, and could require additional costs to be incurred. At FPL, recovery of these costs is subject to FPSC approval.
Adverse capital and credit market conditions may adversely affect FPL Group's and FPL's ability to meet liquidity needs, access capital and operate and grow their businesses, and increase the cost of capital. Disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in the financial markets can also adversely impact the results of operations and financial condition of FPL Group and FPL, as well as exert downward pressure on the market price of FPL Group's common stock.
Having access to the credit and capital markets, at a reasonable cost, is necessary for FPL Group and FPL to fund their operations, including their capital requirements. Those markets have provided FPL Group and FPL with the liquidity to operate and grow their businesses that is not otherwise provided from operating cash flows. Disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in those markets can increase FPL Group's and FPL's cost of capital. If FPL Group and FPL are unable to access the credit and capital markets on terms that are reasonable, they may have to delay raising capital, issue shorter-term securities and/or bear an unfavorable cost of capital, which, in turn, could adversely impact their ability to grow their businesses, decrease earnings, significantly reduce financial flexibility and/or limit FPL Group's ability to sustain its current common stock dividend level.
The market price and trading volume of FPL Group's common stock could be subject to significant fluctuations due to, among other things, general stock market conditions and changes in market sentiment regarding FPL Group and its subsidiaries' operations, business, growth prospects and financing strategies.
FPL Group’s, FPL Group Capital’s and FPL’s inability to maintain their current credit ratings may adversely affect FPL Group’s and FPL’s liquidity, limit the ability of FPL Group and FPL to grow their businesses, and would likely increase interest costs.
FPL Group and FPL rely on access to capital and credit markets as significant sources of liquidity for capital requirements not satisfied by operating cash flows. The inability of FPL Group, FPL Group Capital and FPL to maintain their current credit ratings could affect their ability to raise capital or obtain credit on favorable terms, which, in turn, could impact FPL Group's and FPL's ability to grow their businesses and would likely increase their interest costs.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to credit and performance risk from third parties under supply and service contracts.
FPL Group and FPL rely on contracts with vendors for the supply of equipment, materials, fuel and other goods and services required for the construction and operation of, and for capital improvements to, their facilities, as well as for business operations. If vendors fail to fulfill their contractual obligations, FPL Group and FPL may need to make arrangements with other suppliers, which could result in higher costs, untimely completion of power generation facilities and other projects, and/or a disruption to their operations.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to costs and other potentially adverse effects of legal and regulatory proceedings, as well as regulatory compliance and changes in or additions to applicable tax laws, rates or policies, rates of inflation, accounting standards, securities laws, corporate governance requirements and labor and employment laws.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to costs and other potentially adverse effects of legal and regulatory proceedings, settlements, investigations and claims, as well as regulatory compliance and the effect of new, or changes in, tax laws, rates or policies, rates of inflation, accounting standards, securities laws, corporate governance requirements and labor and employment laws.
FPL and NextEra Energy Resources, as owners and operators of bulk power transmission systems and/or critical assets within various regions throughout the United States, are subject to mandatory reliability standards promulgated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and enforced by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. These standards, which previously were being applied on a voluntary basis, became mandatory in June 2007. Noncompliance with these mandatory reliability standards could result in sanctions, including substantial monetary penalties, which likely would not be recoverable from customers.
Threats of terrorism and catastrophic events that could result from terrorism, cyber attacks, or individuals and/or groups attempting to disrupt FPL Group's and FPL's business may impact the operations of FPL Group and FPL in unpredictable ways.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to direct and indirect effects of terrorist threats and activities, as well as cyber attacks and disruptive activities of individuals and/or groups. Infrastructure facilities and systems, including, for example, generation, transmission and distribution facilities, physical assets and information systems, in general, have been identified as potential targets. The effects of these threats and activities include, but are not limited to, the inability to generate, purchase or transmit power, the delay in development and construction of new generating facilities, the risk of a significant slowdown in growth or a decline in the U.S. economy, delay in economic recovery in the United States, and the increased cost and adequacy of security and insurance.
The ability of FPL Group and FPL to obtain insurance and the terms of any available insurance coverage could be adversely affected by international, national, state or local events and company-specific events.
FPL Group's and FPL's ability to obtain insurance, and the cost of and coverage provided by such insurance, could be adversely affected by international, national, state or local events as well as company-specific events.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to employee workforce factors that could adversely affect the businesses and financial condition of FPL Group and FPL.
FPL Group and FPL are subject to employee workforce factors, including, for example, loss or retirement of key executives, availability of qualified personnel, inflationary pressures on payroll and benefits costs and collective bargaining agreements with union employees and work stoppage that could adversely affect the businesses and financial condition of FPL Group and FPL.
The risks described herein are not the only risks facing FPL Group and FPL. Additional risks and uncertainties also may materially adversely affect FPL Group's or FPL's business, financial condition and/or future operating results
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