Thursday, April 28, 2016

FPL executives feel the pressure rising and try to "manipulate the flow" ... by gimleteye

It was a "feel-good" day at Florida International University for FPL and that is pretty much how the Miami Herald reported it. The kind of day that feels like a very big corporation trying to curry favor with the public after its image has been tarnished by problems at FPL Turkey Point that could quickly become the largest single water crisis in Florida.

The Miami Herald, in its report (below) slid past at least one point that deserves explanation: "An additional $660,000 five-year grant will provide 21 engineering students with a chance to study fluctuations caused by cloud cover or seasonal variations and design smart technology to manipulate the flow." Question: manipulate which flow?

If the massive problem in the cooling canals at Turkey Point demonstrate anything, it is along the lines of hubris. Back in the early 1970's, there was lots of civic skepticism -- by the very same conservation groups hammering away at FPL's dismal record, today -- that the untried, untested cooling canals would not work. Today, and over the past thirty years, the history is clear: FPL kept away from the public data and information about its growing problem.

The corporation was so confident of its ability to "manipulate the flow" of information and outcomes, suppressed data collection related to its pollution, and repeatedly pushed away and finally broke the back of state regulators who were charged to protect the public interest.

Today the corporation is facing multi-billion dollar costs to fix the broken cooling canal system that is putting the whole of the Florida Keys and much of the aquifer in south Miami-Dade at risk.

It is no surprise that the corporation's message machinery is working double-shifts to paint a rosy picture for the public and mask how poorly its "manipulation of flow" worked in the past. As a side note, the cooling canals at Turkey Point work on the principle that "dilution is the solution to pollution". That principle applies equally to criminal laws against polluters.

Another question: FPL's "$4.7 million dollar solar array" is over a parking lot. Good idea. We've asked the question before (most recently, right here!) why won't FPL allow other businesses to erect and to own solar arrays like this on the top of rooftop warehouses in the Miami Airport industrial neighborhoods? They could either buy or lease the technology from FPL and sell the excess electricity produced, back into the FPL grid. (read our archive on FPL, for more on this.)

This freedom to choose whether or not or how to participate in the solar revolution is exactly what FPL and the state's other utilities are determined to stop. FPL wants to control every aspect of energy distribution, as it does in South Florida today. We are supposed to be thankful, FPL suggests, because we have some of the lowest electric rates in the nation. But at what cost? the sceptic asks looking at Turkey Point's severe pollution trouble.

FPL's top executive, Eric Silagy, told the Herald, "... FPL supports solar, as long as it’s good for customers — and cost and reliability remain issues. Expensive rooftop panels, which gives credit to customers for the electricity they don’t use, forces poorer customers to subsidize wealthier ones who can afford systems that run more than $30,000, he said. This year, a rebate program that paid $30 million to just 1,700 residential and commercial customers ended because it failed to spur enough new solar use."

What Silagy didn't say: the solar program in Florida failed to provide clear incentives for adoption by business and consumers because the state's utilities manipulated the flow against the benefits to the public.

If there is one thing FPL does better than produce electricity, it is being disingenuous.

April 27, 2016

Is it a lab or a parking lot? FPL, FIU partner on new solar project

FPL’s new solar array at FIU to serve as research lab for engineers
Panels to produce 1.4 megwatts of solar power
Research will look at how to feed solar energy into the grid

FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy, adds his signature to a display solar
panel during an unveiling of a new solar array at the FIU college of engineering.

By Jenny Staletovich -

Engineering students at Florida International University are getting a two-fer with Florida Power & Light’s new 1.4-megawatt solar array at the university’s Sweetwater campus: covered parking and a lab.

Homestead and Wayne Rosen Update: Hudstead's Keys Gate Can't Catch a Break. By Geniusofdespair

Multiple neighbors are complaining on line about their houses shaking and cracks in their foundation. One woman replaced all the tile in her home....

Some of the copy that is with  Keys Gate petition:
Florida City Commission gives final approval to a rock quarry’s expansion despite earlier protests by homeowners, regulatory agencies and the superintendent of Biscayne National Park against Atlantic Civil. (Posted on Sun, Mar. 30, 2008).

Atlantic Civil will develop a rock-mining quarry on 589 acres of land that is so far projected to be located south of Southwest 360th Street and east of Southwest 167th Avenue. Some 72 acres are already being mined.

City leaders said the economic benefit of the quarry outweighed concerns raised last fall by homeowners as well as environmental and park officials.
Amanda Garner (a Homestead Council member at that time) appeared at the Florida City Commission meeting to express her constituent’s concerns about blasting damaging their homes. ''I can't tell you how many times I've been contacted by residents who've had damage to their homes -- foundation cracks, brand new homes with cracked tiles,'' said Garner, who's no longer on the council. ``People can feel it in their homes when it happens.''
Meanwhile here  is an update on, in my opinion, a Self-Centered Man always on the move to make more money at the expense of...well anyone but him. God forbid that he should help the middle class people who live in the community that he built, people who love their homes despite their dwindling property values because of his failed golf course:

 Wayne Rosen Update on Keys Gate - in the Miami Herald:

You have to understand that you can’t ask me to build a golf course without having those single-family homes to to help pay for it. It’s called cash flow. - Wayne Rosen

“Why is the developer dictating to the city what should be built? A city and its residents should be dictating that, not the developer. The developer should conform to what the citizens and the city thinks are the best uses for those lands.” - Councilman Jon Burgess

Will Homestead get its golf course? Developer: only if city passes my request

With some misgivings and a promise to review at least part of the issues before taking a final vote, the Homestead City Council tentatively approved a zoning application by Wayne Rosen that would allow give him more flexibility than other developers to build what he wants in an area designated for mixed use — a combination of retail, single-family homes and condos.

Rosen told the Miami Herald he plans to build 91 single-family homes and that in return, he would pay to renovate the rundown Keys Gate Golf and Country Club, although the golf course is nowhere mentioned in his application. Golf course renovations weren’t part of the conversation Wednesday.

But passage on May 18 is not assured. Some council members are not comfortable with proposed changes to the existing mixed-use zoning code on Rosen’s 20 acres, and say they want to revisit the issue before the final vote.

“I think we’re giving up too much with this ‘mixed-use’ dialogue,” said Mayor Jeff Porter, who voted in favor. “If we don’t have some sort of concession, some sort of clarification, it’s going to be the biggest sticking point. I’m giving it a chance to live, knowing that there’s still a chance for it to die in second reading.”
 When I think of Keys Gate I always have Watergate in the back of my mind.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 29th Cooling Canal Meeting: State Putting the Screws on FPL (Election Year). By Geniusodespair

I know it is a royal pain in the ass to show up on a Friday night, in Homestead of all places, but the State Committee is coming to us so we have a duty not to let them see we are actually a bunch of lazy citizens. Buck up and show up because the Tallahassee Senate Committee will be in Hudstead. You don't want all the FPL citizen plants (FPL always digs a bunch of them up in Hudstead - I once saw a pregnant woman testify on how great the nuke plant is) to do all the commenting do you?

 If they see a big crowd they will worry about Anitere Flores seat (with redistricting she has to contend with pesky green people) and perhaps do some of what was reported in the Miami Herald today in a front page article:

In a notice to FPL officials Monday, the Department of Environmental Protection gave the utility 21 days to provide any information about how the 40-year-old canals have seeped into the Biscayne aquifer over the years and enter negotiations to come up with a clean-up plan. If the two sides fail to agree, the agency may come up with its own measures in 60 days, the notice said.

DEP Water Resource Management Director Frederick Aschauer also warned FPL that a new problem — in March Miami-Dade County detected canal water in Biscayne Bay — may be violating other state laws, for which the utility may be liable for damages.
This is the largest cooling canal system in the world. Note the size of the plant next to the canals.

The one thing that makes me happy: The Tallahassee Senate Committee will probably be stuck in Homestead for dinner and lodging. The bad thing: They will be very cranky by the time Citizen Comments come up. Can you imagine 200 people commenting. They might urge you to submit your comments in writing for the record (like any of those will be read). Those comments will be left on a dusty shelf never to be seen again.

On the application of taxation and the Everglades: priorities ... by gimleteye

On the Everglades, you can listen to the arguments and the public relations from the South Florida Water Management or its primary corporate supporter, Big Sugar, but understand one fact that is indisputable: taxpayers are on the hook.

Some good portion of those taxpayers are voters. And voters matter. No matter how carefully special interests line up the pins in the bowling alley, stacking them so even an idiot could get a strike, at the end of the day it's the voters who bowl.

All the maneuvering of highly paid lobbyists and lawyers and the dance of politicians point to shifting as many costs to taxpayers as possible and away from the Big Ag industries that make money the old fashioned way: stealing it. Only it's not called "stealing".

It is more like having your pocket picked and afterwards the pickpocket hands your wallet back saying, look what I found: you owe me a reward. In the case of Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, the reward is being elected governor when Rick Scott is gone. In the case of the pickpocket, it's about being allowed to continue without interference by either law enforcement or the fleeced. And what about the people whose pockets are being picked?

A lot of Republican taxpayers -- who also vote -- are riled up by the horrendous pollution coursing out of Lake Okeechobee that is damaging natural resources and recreational opportunities on both coasts. Instead of dealing with the heart of the problem -- buying enough land south of Lake Okeechobee to clean the pollution before fresh water heads south -- the politicians are volunteering: everything that can be done is being done to protect a badly damaged water system. (Go down to the riverbank and see for yourself how well that is working out.)

The best way to explain what is going on is to start by thinking of the water system as a malfunctioning, broken car radiator.

The radiator is comprised of channels. No amount of water you pour into the radiator is going to hold if there are holes in the channels. Run the car that way, pretty soon the engine is gone. That engine? It's our economy, our jobs, our natural resources and in the case of our home values, our net worth.

That's how to think of the Everglades when you fly into one of the regional airports: a wet broken radiator.

Putting fluid into the radiator -- think of Lake Okeechobee as a vast reservoir -- requires a funnel. In the case of Everglades restoration, the funnel also has holes and it won't hold water either.

So the radiator doesn't hold water and the funnel doesn't that supplies water to the radiator. This dysfunction serves a single purpose: protecting Big Sugar south of Lake Okeechobee. All your tax dollars to save the Everglades really are going to saving this: very large piles of sugar that would never exist but for US farm policy that holds the growing of sugar cane to be the most brazen form of corporate welfare in the United States.

Sugar, a highly addictive toxin, in Clewiston
So if you are a taxpayer, which do you fix first? The radiator or the funnel feeding the coils. Both have holes in them.

That is the question that is being walked around the legislature and "business" groups like a prize heifer at the county fair. "Looky here, we got ourselves a real winner: fix the funnel first." That is what is happening right now, with a disinformation campaign being waged by Big Sugar.

Now there's no question that stopping up the holes in the funnel is important. Think, septic tanks and dairy farm runoff north of Lake O. Big Sugar is blaming all the woes: it's not us! "Six times the flow goes into the Lake than out, when it pours." Sounds simple! Not.

So let's look at Big Sugar's scenario the way the politicians want to play it out. Ten or twenty years from now, you fixed the funnel. Hooray. But water is still leaking out of the radiator.

It makes sense to fix the car radiator, first, or, do both concurrently.

Fix the Okeechobee watershed, you could get better quality water running into the Big Lake, but it won't do anything to stop the massive discharges out of Lake Okeechobee when the water gets too high. Fix the storage capacity south of the lake, and eventually stop the estuaries and rivers from being destroyed.

Buy Big Sugar lands, send clean, fresh water south. This isn't an academic question: the filth coming out of Lake Okeechobee holds toxins even more dangerous than sugar. Here is what happened to one of our readers in Jupiter, just from contact with water.

And here is what happened to another.

If your legislators won't support buying Big Sugar lands today, find a new set who will next November at the polls.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Who can change FPL's corporate behavior at Turkey Point? ... by gimleteye

FPL and its corporate parent, NextEra Energy Inc., want to get away as far as possible from protesters it has stirred up in South Florida with its heavy-handed corporate behavior. The $20 billion company decided to take its annual meeting to Oklahoma whose own U.S. Senator James Inhofe has called climate change "the biggest hoax in history".

At the May 19th meeting, executives will entertain certain shareholder proposals like the one I filed on sea level rise:

NEE Shareholder Memorandum

AT a time when the science and evidence of sea level rise is piling up, corporate America is unwilling to fundamentally change its orientation and outlook. Two pressure points -- financing and insurance -- still are mostly talking points. There is just too much money being made by maintaining and defending the status quo. In Florida that status quo includes the Rick Scott administration and the Florida Cabinet especially Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam.

Late last year, Scott deferred to Putnam who lead the Cabinet vote approving the siting of two new nuclear reactors by FPL at Turkey Point. When a state appeals court overturned the decision last week, Gov. Scott and Putnam scoffed.

Voters will have a chance to turn Scott and Putnam, Bondi and the rest from office, starting with state legislative races in November. That would be a beautiful morning. With FPL, the path is not so clear.

Silicon Valley is My Favorite Show on TV. By Geniusofdespair

The hapless computer nerds on Silicon Valley make me laugh more than any other show. I especially like the forever feuding Software and Hardware specialists (see 9:30 on video). The third season of this HBO series is just beginning (Sunday at 10pm). You can catch up with binge watching but note it is x rated.

This is a link to a Compilation video of funny moments.  I especially like the 4:50 sequence.

TV Critic Hank Stuever said:
Mike Judge’s “Silicon Valley” (premiering Sunday night on HBO) is a blunt, delicious example of how to have it both ways, being hilarious while offering a fair indictment of an entire culture. It’s a precise, sharply executed sendup of the high-tech, billionaire-making culture and economy of Facebook/Google/Apple/Amazon/Yahoo that has infiltrated (“disrupted,” as they say) contemporary life. Better still, “Silicon Valley” is also here to make you laugh.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Miami Herald comes through on NUKE Dangers. By geniusofdespair

The Miami Herald has a Lengthy article about the Chernobyl disaster. I have to admit I am very proud of the Miami Herald for printing this when FPL is in all out public relations war to regain your trust at the FPL NUKE plant that is leaking tainted water into Card Sound, our pristine Biscayne Bay and causing saltwater intrusion into our aquifer (I.e. Our drinking water).

The Miami Herald finally comes through for the citizens in its last two articles (see my post yesterday about the first article):

Ruined Chernobyl nuclear plant will remain a threat for 3,000 years

30 years since Chernobyl may seem like a long time, but it’s really just the start
Below reactor’s ruins is a 2,000-ton radioactive mass that can’t be removed

How do you protect a site for as long a time as Western civilization has existed?

Too lazy to read the excellent article in the Miami Herald? I know you are, you rascals.

Well then watch this damn video. I posted it in 2008. It is the best example of what happened at Chernobyl and best of all NO DIALOGUE just music but it is all there.

After watching my video I can't imagine you not going back to read the Miami Herald article peppered with photos for those who need images to read.

The Politics of Climate Change: an incessant drumbeat ... by gimleteye

I'm on my way to Greenland for a second visit (the first, I documented here at EOM in 2013), I thought I'd do some research to see how the world is looking. To prepare myself, I spent a few hours clicking around the NOAA website, that you can easily access here.

The yellow circle in the map above represents a cold water anomaly off the coast of Greenland, that ocean scientists have been investigating. The cold cold water at the surface represents a special concern for the eastern seaboard of the United States including Florida. The reason for the extra-cold water there? Ice melt from the glaciers of Greenland. This cold water is altering the massive engine of deep ocean currents that influence the sea levels and weather.

You would think we would want to know everything we can about the uncontrolled experiment we unleashed called global warming. You would be wrong, at least in Republican circles.

Exactly one year ago, the GOP leadership in Congress undertook to eliminate funding of Earth Sciences at NASA, one of the most important repositories of science in the federal government. We've seen a miniature version of the anti-science jihad by Republicans in Florida, with Gov. Rick Scott slashing the science staff of the South Florida Water Management District. 

In Congress, Senator Ted Cruz lead the rebellion against the NASA budget. He cloaked his dagger in the proposition that NASA should "refocus" on exploration in space, not the earth or climate change that his colleague, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), calls "the biggest hoax in history".

GOP leaders cynically timed their attack against NASA in 2015 because the presidential election was far away (during a year that measured as the hottest on record except for the first three months of this year). They counted on no political consequence, as opposed to this year when the GOP attack would be political ammo for the opposition.

Visiting Greenland in July 2013 was a transformative experience. I went back to my first post from Greenland (you can read the whole lot of them, by clicking here):
I understand that Miami readers ... the principal source of readership for this blog ... find it difficult to comment on the impact of climate change. We established the blog for the purpose of calling attention to local issues and politics that the mainstream media refuse to touch.

We narrow-cast and the comments we receive are a good indicator that an important slice of Miami and of Florida congregate around our blog. We also know our blog is read by those involved in the judiciary at the federal and state level, and know that those special interests who control Florida politics through conservative legislatures at the city and county level and through the state legislature employ people to track the blogs.

Talking about climate change and its impacts needs to be an incessant, constant drum beat. I don't have any expectation that it is possible to divert attention to a long-term crisis affecting Miami any more than it is possible it is to change the media message machinery of the radical right. What I call, the Fox News politburo.
In retrospect, I was wrong and also right.

I was wrong because in just three years the Miami Herald turned its ship completely around on global warming: sea level rise and climate change impacts feature in the Herald pages today.

The Herald followed the mainstream media, in general, on climate change. It is hard to know what forced the change: scientists like Dr. James Hansen who are speaking out -- and even getting arrested in civil disobedience protests, an avalanche of press reports by investigative journalists at the Guardian, in the New York Times and other non-traditional news outlets, like Vice, or just plain observable evidence.

I was also right: "talking about climate change and its impacts needs to be an incessant, constant drum beat." It is, today, and one reason why Florida's fallen GOP candidates to be president -- Jeb Bush but especially Marco Rubio -- failed to advance.

Being anti-science may play in Alabama, but it's not going to get you elected anywhere else.

The impacts of climate change are here and now. In June, I'll start posting the three day flight by small plane to Greenland. Until then, I'll keep coming back to that yellow circle in the map, above, and what it means for our collective future. An incessant drumbeat.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

FPL - The Company is a colossal mess and what a bunch of liars on the Nuke Plant. By Geniusofdespair

Eric Silagy CEO of Florida Power and Light tries to defend the indefensible...

Note how the tritium is moving into Biscayne Bay

FPL tries to defend itself but the proof is in the pudding according to the Miami Herald:

Records show FPL had been warned for years about problems and even conducted its own research in 2010 that concluded its key fix — adding millions of gallons of brackish water to freshen the super salty canals — would likely make the plume worse. After overheated canals forced the plant’s two reactors to partially power down in 2014, the utility pushed state regulators and water managers repeatedly to add more water, solutions that would allow it to continue operating under Nuclear Regulatory Commission limits but potentially increase the extent and speed of saltwater seepage from the unlined canals.

At the time, the company was still publicly insisting its canals were “definitely a closed system” not impacting any other source of water.

The end result, say environmentalists and others who pushed FPL to move faster over the years, are patchwork fixes and shortsighted solutions they say have failed to deal with broader problems caused by the 44-year-old canals.

“They’re band-aids,” said Steve Torcise, whose family has operated a rock mine just west of the canals for 90 years and earlier this year won a legal fight demanding the state overhaul a management plan that allowed FPL to add more water without fully addressing the impact on the plume. An administrative judge in February faulted the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for being too weak and not citing FPL.
Turkey Point Nuke Plant - Don't you wonder where all the Nuclear Waste is kept?
Well there is a video on it 1,074 Metric Tons of toxic nuclear waste is stored in pools above ground at sea level.

County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava said:

“Their first order of business has to be to do no harm to our community and to our environment,” she said. “They want to be known as being good stewards, so it’s especially incumbent upon them to set the example.”

Video by Engineer Ed Swakon explaining the salt water intrusion:

From the Miami Herald

Campaign Reports as of March 31st: Juan Zapata and Barbara Jordan. By Geniusofdespair

Did you give to Juan Zapata's campaign? He holds the least of any County Commissioners in his account: $130,355 except for Bruno Barreiro (who has no one running against him).

Zapata did get contributions from the Dolphins and the Wet Dream Mall people: Ghermezians.

Dreaded lawyer and lobbyists were also on there, Rodney Baretto, Ron Book, Tracey Slavens. Lasarte law firm and Miguel DeGrandy.

Dreaded developers were also there Century, Kendall Investors 172 and Limonar Development - Alfonso Cordoba). Cordoba is the GREEN CITY developer that wanted to move the UDB for his development. Apparently he still does giving handsomely (at least $5,000 in the campaign account) to Zapata, who did not support the development at the commission last time it surfaced.

Before you judge Juan, know that Barbara Jordan has collected $244,051 with 354 contributions.  Juan has 176 contributions, about half and he has the threat of Joe Martinez running and the threat of the Mayor helping Joe. Dennis Moss has a whopping $318,200, with 416 contributions and no one with any money running against him. Moss also was given an in-kind donation from the Biltmore Hotel of $1,000 (food and beverages) for a fundraising event.

From Barbara Jordan's campaign report.
We, the public, never dreamed that donors would be giving multiple donations from more than one of their companies and also giving to PAC's and ECO's to help a candidate get elected. How do you compete with someone like Barbara Jordan who already has a quarter of a million dollars in her account? Daisy Black is a credible candidate but can't raise that kind of money. She has $4,235 to run against Audrey Edmonson who has about a third of a million.

How do you compete with Mayor Carlos Gimenez who has $1,103,306 in his account? Everyone will say to you "Run for office" but no one will give you money to run against an incumbent. Ask Raquel Regalado how hard it is to raise funds against an incumbent. She has $265,100 -- a very respectable sum -- but next to Carlos Gimeneez's $1,103,306 it is just peanuts.

Gov. Rick Scott urges leaders to be "transparent" at GOP convention: with everyday Floridians, not so much ... by gimleteye

He used that word, "transparent". Rick Scott. Florida governor. Forgive me for believing transparency was banned in the Scott administration like the phrase "climate change". Rick Scott has a transparency issue but it's irrelevant because voters aren't paying attention. Or so he thinks. Gov. Scott ought to reconsider. Look at the recent election results for Marco Rubio, another politician from Florida with a major transparency problem.

Rick Scott to RNC: No ‘monkey business,’” by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo:
“Florida Gov. Rick Scott passed up a chance to urge Republican National Committee members to support his preferred presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But he warned them: no ‘monkey-business.’ ‘We’ve got to be transparent,’ Scott told a packed room of RNC officials Thursday at their spring meeting in Hollywood, Fla., implicitly telling them not to cut back-room deals that would undercut the frontrunner or, in Trump’s terms, ‘rig’ the process.”

Interesting. On Nov. 9, 2015 Sunshine State News wrote:
"The Sunshine Law may try to promote transparency in Florida’s government, but the Sunshine State fails when it comes to government accountability and transparency, receiving a D- from a recent report from the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. The report analyzed the existence, effectiveness, and accessibility (i.e. citizen access) of key governance and anti-corruption mechanisms through a qualitative and indicator-based research process.

The study looked at 13 different categories to rank government transparency, including public access to information, political financing, electorial oversight and the state budget processes. In the end, Florida ranked 30th out of all 50 states in the report, dropping an entire letter grade from a C- in 2012, the last time the study was conducted."
With Rick Scott, transparency is in the eye of the beholder.