FPL’s Hay urges new plan for energy

FLORIDA - FPL Group Inc. Chairman and CEO Lew Hay said that prompt action is needed to expand the nation's clean-energy economy and doing so will strengthen its economic, energy and climate security.

Speaking before the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Washington, Hay said, "Our nation is at a critical moment in history, confronted by a triple threat of challenges — an economy in recession, an over-dependence on foreign energy, and a warming planet." Hay outlined a seven-point plan to make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

He said policymakers must enact mandatory climate change legislation this year that puts a price on carbon.

"We must 'make polluters pay.' Only when carbon carries a price equal to its cost to society as a whole will we have a level playing field among all forms of electricity generation," Hay said.

Last year, FPL Group announced it would spend $2.4 billion on thermal energy and reducing carbon emissions. Hay called for investment incentives for renewable electricity generation. He also urged support for expanded transmission capacity and for converting 50 percent of the nation's automotive fleet to plug-in vehicles by 2030.

Energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances should be strengthened and incentives should be provided for homeowners and utilities to invest in energy efficiency, according to Hay.

Coal should not be abandoned entirely, Hay said, but legislation providing for research and development for carbon capture and storage should be passed. Hay also said there's a need for more nuclear power plants, the only current source of energy that is abundant and carbon-free.

Regulators need to ensure that utilities remain financially capable of investing in clean energy. The credit crisis has made it more difficult for all but the most credit-worthy companies to raise capital, and even they have to pay more, Hay said.

"Now more than ever, establishing reasonable returns on equity is essential," he said. "Utilities cannot afford to suffer credit downgrades. Impatient capital will either find another home, or it will become far more expensive, saddling customers with unnecessary costs."


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