BALANCE SHEET BLOG – HOLLYWOOD, FL


New Power Plant
April 8, 2012, 9:26 AM
Filed under: Infrastructure

Did you know that the Port Everglades Power Plant is located almost entirely in Hollywood, and that it’s soon to be demolished?

At a recent community meeting at Hollywood City Hall, FPL representatives described the company’s plan to replace the archaic oil-burning Port Everglades plant with a modern, much cleaner facility fueled by natural gas.  FPL publicity notes that (1) the new structure fits within the existing plant’s footprint, (2) it will have three shorter stacks instead of the four smoking monsters we have today (140′ as opposed to 350′), (3) no new pipeline installation will be required, and (4)  the project will create 650 construction jobs.

FPL says the new plant will cut carbon dioxide emissions in half and reduce air emissions by more than 90 percent.  It is expected to generate power using 35 percent less fuel and will supply enough power for about 260,000 FPL customers.  The new plant is scheduled to open in 2016.  FPL is seeking project approval now from the State of Florida Siting Board. You can read more about the new plant on this FPL website.

Port Everglades Power PlantThis is definitely good news for Hollywood.

The source of the natural gas to operate the Port Everglades plant tells the story.  Just five or six years ago, energy companies were seeking permission to ship foreign liquified natural gas (LNG) to off-shore locations (e.g., the Bahamas) where a proposed plant would convert the LNG back to gas.  An ocean-bottom pipeline was to be constructed from the regasification plant to the vicinity of John U. Lloyd State Park, followed by horizontal directional drilling to get the pipeline under the Intracoastal and then new pipeline construction all the way to the Florida Gas Transmission Line located near the Florida Turnpike. This was a huge, potentially destructive project that drew strong opposition based on public safety and environmental concerns.

Now the whole picture has changed.  Domestic natural gas production based on Hydraulic Fracturing of Shale — the process known as fracking — will supply natural gas to our FPL plant for its 30-year expected life.  Major landscape disruption and potential damage to the water supply occur from this process but Southeast Florida is not a fracking site.  Our plant will be fueled by natural gas extracted in states north of Florida.

While we applaud replacement of the old FPL polluter plant, at the same time we’re troubled with our gain at the expense of so many other US citizens further north who are now struggling to secure protections from the depredations of fracking. For all of us, transitioning to a lifestyle less dependent on fossil fuels is more important than ever.


Water/Sewer Rates Increasing: 2009
June 16, 2009, 12:12 AM
Filed under: Infrastructure, Water-Sewer-Sanitation

June 16, 2009

The Cost of Water

The City’s explanation for recent water rate increases:

“Why is the increase so much? There are several factors driving the new rate structure and increases. The old rates would not have allowed the City to pay for system improvements needed to meet newly adopted state and federal regulations. Additionally, the majority of Hollywood’s water and wastewater infrastructure was built before 1970. This means in the years ahead much of this infrastructure will need to be replaced.”

The City’s explanation for how our new, higher water payments are used.

“What do water and wastewater base charges pay for? The base charges pay for the fixed costs associated with managing the water and wastewater accounts.    The base charges also cover a portion of operating costs.”

“What do water and wastewater consumption/usage charges pay for? Consumption charges cover capital costs, repair and maintenance costs and the portion of operating costs not covered by base charges. This includes expenses such as debt service (bond or loan repayment), engineering and administration costs and regulatory compliance costs.”

The Commissioners said the city needs to raise rates to generate money to pay for more than $200 million in upgrades to Hollywood’s aging infrastructure. Sun Sentinel_ 10/21/09

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Water Infrastructure Inadequate
January 2, 2007, 12:02 AM
Filed under: Development, Infrastructure, Water-Sewer-Sanitation

January 2, 2007

As the new year begins, we hear from Albert Perez, our Public Utilities Director:

“The City of Hollywood’s water treatment plant is inadequate to serve its existing and developing customer base.”

What does this mean?

For some time now, the City Commission has been providing millions of dollars in the form of developer incentives for luxury high-rise condos downtown and on the beach.  The express purpose of much of this development is to lure new residents with ” disposable income,” who will add economic vitality to our city, and help our businesses survive.  In fact, the mayor has proclaimed as part of her legacy bringing this new economic class to Hollywood.

Residents have long questioned whether the infrastructure can support all the planned condo towers and townhouses, and until now those questions have been brushed aside.  Now, the new public utilities director speaks the truth: our infrastructure will not support all this development.

Since the new people with disposable incomes are not yet here in appreciable numbers, it is up to Hollywood’s existing residents to pay for a water plant expansion that will be needed to serve all the new wealth once it does get here.

What is the planned upgrade and what will it cost?   The project entails constructing two new Floridian Aquifer wells and expanding the reverse osmosis treatment facility. The cost is estimated at $2,459,600. Fortunately, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has awarded the city a $1,000,000 grant to help fund this project. Acceptance of this grant is Agenda Item No. 5 on the City Commission’s January 3, 2007 agenda.

Water Fees to Change

An interesting aspect of the SFWMD grant is a requirement that the city enact a water rate structure that promotes conservation and the use of water from “alternative water supplies.”  (Note: Water from Floridian Aquifer wells is considered an “alternative water supply.”) The new rate structure must be in place by June 2007, so we should be hearing more about it fairly soon.

Questions

  • Water rates were raised last October.  Was this expansion project a cost that the increased rates were intended to cover?  Or is this an additional expense?
  • Exactly what is the water treatment plant’s “developing customer base”; specifically how many new people and how many new businesses are we planning to serve?
  • When will we have a water plant master plan that will lay out exactly what needs to be done to provide sufficient water for the foreseeable future?

In the absence of a long-range plan for our public utilities, we have what seems like a piecemeal, often emergency, approach to funding water and sewer capital projects that leaves the public totally in the dark until suddenly a new capital project is required, or yet another rate increase appears on the books.  In short, an updated public utilities master plan is long overdue.  We understand it is in the works but perhaps a year away.

We thank the new Public Utilities Director for a level of truth-telling that was not available during the tenure of his predecessor. We urge him to make completion of a water and sewer master plan a high priority in the new year.

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