Friday, September 22, 2017

Clarifying a press report: Just in case you may have missed this post-Hurricane Irma.

Blog post titled, “Lake Worth’s electricity comes primarily from natural gas, nuclear, and coal.”

If you happened to be confused or “scratching your head” after reading an article in The Palm Beach Post last Saturday, well, join the club. Here’s an excerpt from the Post’s beat reporter:
Why Lake Worth’s power issues are unique: Lake Worth is Palm Beach County’s only city with its own power plant.
True. The City of Lake Worth has a power plant. A very aged one and only capable of powering sections of the City — like areas in our Downtown — with generators using different grades of oil, e.g., diesel fuel. And by the way, if you happen to be a radical environmentalist or a member of the Sierra Club and think solar energy is the future of our Lake Worth Electric Utility (LWEU), members of Deep Green Resistance (DGR) have some thoughts on solar energy:

“[W]e’re going to introduce you to some ideas that you’re probably familiar with already as environmentalists. But we might also be talking about some things that are surprising or even shocking to some of you.”

Now back to our LWEU:

The City of Lake Worth has a “tie in line” with FP&L and most of our electric energy is delivered via that line. Note the words “that line”. There is only one tie in line with FP&L and that needs to be addressed at some point; adding a second line is very expensive, into the millions of dollars. But more on that at some point in the future.

In January 2016 City Manager
Michael Bornstein wrote,

“We currently receive most of our energy from natural gas (Orlando Utility Commission contract for power at 33 megawatts), nuclear (FP&L St. Lucie Plant 20.3 megawatts) and coal (Orlando Stanton 1 at 10 megawatts).”

Simply put, if you are a customer of LWEU you are getting your energy from natural gas, nuclear, coal, and a very small amount from solar. Very little of your electric energy needs are actually generated by the City of Lake Worth.

Here’s another excerpt from the city manager:

     “Not too many years ago our Utility was plagued with an inordinate amount of outages, complaints about the rates, and calls to sell it to FP&L. In the past few years, those trends have been reversed and our services have been improved. We are committed to making Lake Worth Electric a source of pride and a leader in municipal power service.
     Part of this effort involves finding cleaner and more diversified sources of energy. Having several sources of energy will make us better prepared to withstand changes in the energy market such as when one type of fuel becomes more expensive due to environmental impacts and stiffer regulations.
     Energy costs related to Solar Panels have been dropping as technology continues to improve their efficiency.”

and. . .

     “Lake Worth is not a wealthy city and has had serious financial issues over the past several years, therefore, we have had to look at creative ways to fund necessary improvements.”

This City of Lake Worth newsletter,
“Worth Noting” ends with,

In Public Service,
Michael Bornstein, City Manager

Lastly, for new or recently new
customers of LWEU:

Hurricanes and the City of Lake Worth: Why
having our own Electric Utility is significant
and very important.

Following Hurricane Matthew last year I penned this blog post; here is a short excerpt:

“This isn’t a look back for long-time residents of this City. For those who were here at the time [2004–2005], no words are necessary.
     But for new residents of this City, what you’ll read about is what happens when infrastructure, like our Electric Utility, was allowed to fall apart years ago and the consequences of those terrible decisions that ‘came to roost’ starting in 2004.
     Were you here last year for Hurricane Matthew? You’ll learn why I prepared to go without electric for weeks because of that storm. Why? The short answer is because of past hurricanes that actually happened to me and many others as well.”

Hurricane Irma’s impact on our City of Lake Worth was substantial and not to be downplayed. But compared to hurricanes Francis and Jeanne in 2004 (exactly 2 weeks apart) and then Wilma in 2005, going just 5 days without power is something to be very proud of. Our LWEU has come a long way.