Jimmy Patronis: Florida’s utility grid a result of hard work, forward thinking

electric power wires in the Everglades florida
It is not a sprint; it’s a march and it takes hard work by serious people.

With large populations, no income taxes, business-friendly environments, and principles of limited government, Florida and Texas will forever serve as beacons of liberty and prosperity to the rest of the United States.

I know, however, we’ve all been monitoring the fallout related to Texas’ energy grid issues from last month’s winter storms.

As last year was one of the most active hurricane seasons in history — Florida is a leader in successfully recovering from disasters and specifically, we may be able to provide valuable technical assistance in bolstering the long-term sustainability of Texas’ power grid moving forward.

As a former Commissioner of Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC), I can say without a doubt that Florida is well-positioned to handle challenges to its electrical grid and I think it’s important that we recognize the hard work and forward thinking that made that possible.

For example, many of Florida’s major utilities have maintained a 20% margin of power for years, compared to the 13.5% of the Texas grid. Because Texas’ reserved margin was lower, there was not enough of extra-power to handle the demand.

The point needs be stressed: Florida’s ability to get to a 20% reserved margin of power — above peak usage — was not easy.

The PSC and private providers had to work together for years to make the right investments and strengthen the grid for these reserved margins. It is one of the reasons that when California goes through rolling back-outs in the summer, Florida doesn’t have to cut power to its citizens.

Additionally, Florida’s regulatory framework is much different compared to Texas.

The Florida PSC plays a much more hands-on role compared to Texas, which is why Florida makes substantial investments in generation, transmission and distribution, while many portions of the Texas grid failed because the price-point was valued over sustainability.

Lastly, there are two important takeaways from assessing Florida’s approach to power — first, we can all be proud of the work that our PSC Commissioners and utilities have done in keeping Florida powered. Second, energy policy shouldn’t be used for political football: building one of the most stable grids with low rates in the U.S. doesn’t happen by accident.

It is not a sprint; it’s a march and it takes hard work by serious people — and we’re lucky to have plenty of them in the Sunshine State.

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Jimmy Patronis is Florida’s Chief Financial Officer.

Guest Author



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