| Is Florida Ready for the Next Storm?|
The Senate Select Committee on Resiliency (Chair, Sen. Ben Albritton (R-Wauchula)) met on Wednesday for an update on the state’s recovery from the latest hurricanes.
The committee convened to hear from Florida’s major utility companies – Florida Power & Light, Co, Duke Energy, and TECO Energy – about plans to improve the resilience of their infrastructure to withstand natural disasters. To improve reliability, utilities are hardening infrastructure using steel or concrete and relocated transmission lines underground.
Senate members additionally discussed the need for utility companies to increase their financial reserves that fund their disaster-recovery efforts. Increasing reserve funds might mean changes in rates for customers.
Community Stakeholder Presentations: Babcock Ranch
The House Select Committee on Resiliency, chaired by Michael Grant (R-Port Charlotte), met on Thursday to hear several presentations on community preparedness, resiliency, and sustainability.
Syd Kitson, Chairman and CEO of Kitson and Partners, a real estate company that focuses on planning environmentally sound and sustainable communities, described infrastructure efforts at Babcock Ranch. Babcock Ranch - a sustainable community that straddles parts of Charlotte County and Lee County - did not lose power after Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. Kitson said the community was built in the right place, and in the right way, with hardened infrastructure designed from the beginning with storms in mind. They are focused on maintaining natural flow-ways, protecting existing wetlands and creating new ones, and creating a network of interconnected lakes, all of which use green infrastructure to hold water and prevent or minimize flooding. Babcock Ranch also features a 150-megawatt solar farm with a massive solar array of 700,000 panels. The solar array together with underground transmission lines kept the grid running during the storm.
The Committee also heard from Pepper Uchino, President of the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association, on the value of the state’s beach erosion control program. Florida has the longest coastline in the continental United States—800 miles. These beaches are the single largest driver of our tourism industry. With an anticipated sea level rise of three feet by 2100, our state’s coastal population of 17 million is facing increasing threats from intense storms and storm surges.