Thursday, May 20, 2010

FPL Shareholders and customers ask, “What’s the company's connection to BP’s disaster in the Gulf?”

Juno Beach, FL-- FPL generates over 20,000 megawatts of energy from oil and gas in the state of Florida.* Shareholders and customers want to know how much of their profits came from oil or gas related to BP's operations in the Gulf. Several Shareholders have submitted their question without any response thus far. They will have their chance to ask in person Friday, May 21st at 10am, during the annual FPL Shareholder’s conference.

The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) will hold a demonstration in front of the corporate offices in Juno Beach, located at 700 Universe Blvd. beginning at 9:15am with the primary message to Shareholders that those profiting from the drilling operations which led to the BP oil disaster must also be held accountable.

The primary item on this year's Shareholder agenda is a name change for the corporation from FPL to 'NextEra Energy'. PBCEC feels this is an effort to distance themselves from recent scrutiny regarding a myriad of environmental, safety and ethics issues.

"There are clearly much more important issues at hand then what they call themselves," stated Shareholder, Thomas Saporito, former employee of FPL and current Executive Director of Endangered Planet Earth. Saporito will be attending the FPL meeting and providing an update to media and demonstrators following the meeting. Other stock-holding PBCEC representatives may also be present inside the meeting.

Regarding FPL's relation to the Gulf disaster, Panagioti Tsolkas, Co-Chair of PBCEC, commented, "This wouldn't be the first time FPL was associated with an oil spill along Florida's coast," referring to a 2006 pipeline leak off Manatee County*. That leak occurred amidst the group’s battle against a new gas-and-oil burning FPL power plant, which is still under construction 1000 feet from the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

"This month we've been offered a devastating reminder of the toll taken by industrial disasters. All confidence has been shattered that the government or corporations can safeguard the public," stated Tsolkas. "The days of this Energy Empire are numbered. The whole system has got to change."

The PBCEC also maintains several concerns with other FPL operations and practices which it wishes to convey at the meeting, including:

-Impacts to the Barley Barber old-growth bald cypress swamp by Martin County plant;

-Environmental racism in Riviera Beach;

-Hazardous radioactive emissions and dangerous storage practices in St. Lucie and Turkey Point nuclear plants;

-'Greenwashing' their image by providing exaggerated environmental benefit and fraudulent programs to mask negative impacts of centralized, combustion energy

-Extortion of rate payers through 'Early Cost Recovery' which is charging customers for plants that aren't even permitted yet;

-Involvement in documented corruption with the Public Service Commission staff (PSC) and Board of Palm Beach County Commissioners, as well as coercive influence over all levels of government in Florida;

-Proposed hikes in utility rates for more fossil fuel infrastructure and high-level executive pay increases.


*Map of FPL plants in Florida: (This link does not include 3,800 megawatts recently added and more underway.)