The Palm Beach Post

Additional pipelines needed in near future to meet energy needs

- KEVIN DOYLE, TALLAHASSE­E Editor’s note: Kevin Doyle is executive director of Consumer Energy Alliance-Florida.

It was reported, back in 2008, that Florida was vulnerable to energy disruption if supply were shut down in the Gulf of Mexico or if a pipeline failed.

And hurricanes — which can interrupt supply and leave the state susceptibl­e to shortfalls and excessive prices — could do both.

Here’s why: Most of the petroleum we consume is imported from adjacent states or other countries. It comes via overseas tankers and barges to marine terminals in Florida. We also get most of our natural gas from other Gulf Coast states via pipeline or from tanker shipments offloaded in Georgia and piped to Florida. A hurricane would disrupt each of these delivery avenues.

The Sunshine State will need a lot more energy, with or without weather-related interrupti­ons — about 10 more gigawatts through 2035, according to the Florida Reliabilit­y Coordinati­ng Council. That’s a 20 percent increase from a couple of years back, and Florida’s per capita residentia­l electricit­y demand already is among the highest in the country

With many of the pipelines that go in and around Florida already near capacity, how do we plan to get all that energy to market safely and responsibl­y?

The answer is simple: Expand Florida’s energy infrastruc­ture — the sooner, the better.

The economic reasons are obvious. Pipeline expansion equates to more economic growth, job creation and tax revenue, plus significan­tly more cost savings for consumers.

But what’s often forgotten are pipeline’s environmen­tal benefits.

Studies have shown that pipelines are the safest way to transport energy. In fact, pipeline-transporte­d oil and gas safely reached its destinatio­n more than 99.999 percent of the time in 2013.

Coupled with record increases in natural gas usage, pipelines have lowered carbon emissions from electricit­y generation to levels not seen in decades.

In all, pipelines have been a win-win — economical­ly and environmen­tally. They’re also a must-have for Floridians who’ll need more juice in the coming years to keep their lights on and their electronic devices powered.

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