Today’s Gainesville Sun published a great editorial which summarizes the proposed Sabal Trail pipeline and all its controversial baggage, which seems to keep growing as time moves on. The editor asks:
“Does the state really need a new pipeline to supply more power plants? The need appears to be more about the profits of major energy providers than the interests of the public.”
To see all the negative aspects of this for(huge)profit proposal, follow this LINK to the original editorial in today’s Sun. With permission from Nathan Crabbe, we have reproduced the editorial here:
Editorial: A pipeline’s purpose
Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 27, 2014 at 2:20 p.m.
As plans progress to put a natural gas pipeline through North Central Florida, there are a number of questions that must be answered about the project but one that stands out.
Does the state really need a new pipeline to supply more power plants?
The need appears to be more about the profits of major energy providers than the interests of the public. At recent hearings before the Florida Public Service Commission, big utilities such as Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light pushed to gut programs that promote energy conservation and solar. They’d rather just keep building power plants.
The reason is simple: Power plants make them money and reduced electric use costs them money. For their customers, however, the reverse is true.
But the public wasn’t able to make that case to the ironically named Public Service Commission, which refused to allow public comment at the hearings.
It’s no surprise, then, that the commission has given its blessing to the natural gas pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must now decide whether the pipeline should be built and what route it should take.
Sabal Trail Transmission, a joint venture of the owner of Florida Power & Light and Houston-based Spectra Energy, is proposing to build the nearly 500-mile, 36-inch pipeline. Property owners who don’t reach agreement with the company would have the land seized by eminent domain.
Sabal Trail spokeswoman Andrea Grover said there are agreements in place to provide the gas to Florida Power and Duke Energy.
“If there wasn’t a need for us to deliver to them, there wouldn’t be a pipeline,” she told The Sun’s editorial board recently.
Yet Duke Energy said this month that it plans to build a natural-gas plant in Citrus County regardless of whether the pipeline is approved. The utility also plans to hike customer bills to pay for the plant.
In April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency questioned the need for more electrical generation. In a letter about the pipeline, the EPA suggested that Florida Power could instead boost conservation and the use of alternative energy sources, noting that electricity sales peaked in 2007. The EPA also suggested the pipeline might pose environmental and safety hazards.
Natural gas is certainly a better option than coal in terms of the emissions that contribute to climate change. But Atlanta-based law firm GreenLaw filed objections this month to the pipeline over concerns it would be a major emitter of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds.
For area residents, a major worry is the pipeline’s path near the region’s springs. A spill could pollute the aquifer that feeds those springs and supplies our drinking water. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must make Sabal Trail address these issues before considering approval of the pipeline.
Gov. Rick Scott has questions of his own to answer about the pipeline. Broward Bulldog reported recently that Scott owned a stake in Spectra Energy in his blind trust. Scott also had a Florida Power & Light executive who pitched the pipeline on his transition team, signed into law two bills designed to speed up pipeline permitting, and appointed the Public Service Commission members who approved it.
But the overarching question is whether the state’s big utilities really need more power plants.
If not, the pipeline isn’t worth the risk — especially when conservation and alternative energy sources could save customers and the environment.