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Of course, this ruling introduces even more jargon in a business climate world where net zero commitments abound. But that could eclipse those pledges, which often use fuzzy offsets and calculations to allow utilities to continue building fossil fuel infrastructure while targeting “decarbonization” on paper.

Alissa Jean Schafer, head of research and communications for watchdog Energy and Policy Institute, said NextEra’s plan came as a welcome surprise.

“For years they were one of the only utilities that didn’t even set a decarbonization goal, so that’s great,” she said, though she added that ‘She would monitor whether the utility company’s investments in the future fit the plan.

The move, however, did not come completely out of left field. Schafer pointed out that NextEra’s investor calls have sparked enthusiastic discussions about the affordability of the solar-plus-storage approach for years now. And NextEra is already one of the biggest solar players in the country. Among the utilities under its banner, Florida Power & Light generates nearly 4,000 megawatts.

In his Tuesday announcement, the company said it plans to continue its rapid solar development. It expects FPL to produce 90,000 megawatts of solar power by 2045. More importantly, FPL also plans to expand storage capacity from 500 megawatts today to 50,000 megawatts by the mid of the century. The utility will also keep its existing nuclear generating capacity of 3,500 megawatts in service. (It remains to be seen whether he will do so using the Biden administration’s nuclear bailout funds.)

However, the fine print of the plan shows that a complete move away from NextEra’s existing fossil fuel infrastructure could be slow in coming. The company plans to keep most of its natural gas plants running until they are converted to run on green hydrogen in the 2040s. That gives the utility an 18-year track to leave fossil fuels behind. , which is a lot of time to operate the polluting infrastructure.

Other parts of the timeline also have caveats. The company’s plan to eliminate all or most of its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2045 assumes “there is no additional cost to customers over alternatives, its efforts to to do are supported by cost-effective technological advances and constructive government policies and incentives, and its investments are acceptable to its regulators.

FPL also helped secretly write a bill that would have reduced Florida’s rooftop solar incentives, raising questions about the utility’s commitment to decarbonization. (In a surprise decision in April, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed that bill.)

Tyson Slocum, energy program director at consumer rights group Public Citizen, said he “applauds” the company for “making fun of the use of dodgy offsets” given that so many other companies seem to have no problem doing so. to meet their net zero commitments.

“But I think we need to see a lot more in terms of transitioning away from their existing natural gas production and a leading role for their captive customers to participate in the decarbonization effort,” he said, in reference to residential consumers who might wish to improve energy efficiency or even install solar panels on roofs.

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