Monitoring, Solar

Florida PSC Terminates FPL’s Sunshine Energy Program

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) voted last week to terminate Florida Power & Light Company’s (FPL) Sunshine Energy Program and place any future customer contributions to the program into an escrow account. PSC Commissioners further directed its staff to continue to pursue an audit of how the funds were utilized by Green Mountain Energy Company, a third party renewable contractor. The results of this audit will be considered in a future PSC meeting.

A prior PSC staff audit of the program indicated that only 20 percent of the US $11.4 million collected from customers was applied to developing renewable energy facilities. The majority of the collected funds were alleged to have been used for marketing and administrative costs. 

More than 38,000 customers voluntarily contributed to the program for almost five years. Participating residential and commercial customers made a US $9.75 monthly contribution to the Sunshine Energy Program to promote the development of renewable energy. For every 10,000 residential customers who signed up for the program, FPL was to develop an additional 150 kilowatts of solar power in Florida.

At a July 1, 2008 meeting, the PSC gave FPL 60 days to modify the program according to a set of guidelines that it laid out. These guidlines included limiting the level of administrative and marketing costs to 20 percent of the overall voluntary contributions recieved through the program. The remaining portion of the funds was to be used for project costs.

“The Sunshine Energy Program does not currently serve the interest of the program’s participants and it does not align with current state renewable energy policies,” the PSC said in a statement from that meeting.

FPL was also directed to provide semi-annual reports to the PSC in order to improve monitoring of program expenses and progress toward meeting program goals. The commision said in its recommendations that, “funds for renewable energy should facilitate the construction of new renewable energy projects in the state,” and, “excess revenues should be directed to support additional renewable energy projects in Florida.”

FPL began offering its Sunshine Energy Program as a voluntary pilot green pricing program when the PSC approved it in December 2003. The pilot program was made permanent in November 2006.