“They acted like thugs,” said former Florida Public Service Commission Chairman Nancy Argenziano of NextEra, “and growing up in Brooklyn, I know what a thug is.”
History of NextEra complaints, lawsuits, settlements
In the last 20 years, NextEra Energy has paid at least $36 million in penalties and settlements on matters ranging from environmental violations, to consumer protection, to workplace safety or health violations. The total number of ongoing complaints, violation proceedings, or lawsuits involving NextEra and its subsidiaries is unknown, however the table below provides an extensive list of resolved cases.
Examples of ongoing investigations around the country
In Jacksonville, Florida, Federal authorities are currently investigating NextEra’s involvement in the failed purchase of local utility, JEA. A report released in early January 2021 by the Jacksonville City Council characterized NextEra’s activities surrounding the attempted JEA purchase bluntly, finding: “evidence of coordination among affiliates of the […] administration and NextEra/FPL that suggests NextEra was the City’s expected purchaser”. The Jacksonville Special Investigatory Committee also found that the City specifically crafted a negotiation strategy with potential JEA buyers designed to benefit NextEra. Leading up to the bid process, NextEra planned to give charitable grants to nonprofits with relationships to Jacksonville City Council members in order to curry favor with them. The utility also employed consultants with conflicts of interest in an attempt to win the bid for JEA.
South Carolina lawmakers in January 2021 requested documents from NextEra following its stalled attempt to purchase the state-owned utility, Santee Cooper. Lawmakers requested “communications between NextEra lobbyists and state lawmakers; […] and records of any NextEra efforts to build public support for the deal by paying political bloggers, business groups and social media influencers.”
In December, a South Florida judge ruled to allow a class action lawsuit involving up to 9,000 local businesses against NextEra subsidiary Florida Power & Light (FPL) for an estimated claim of a minimum of $2 million due to flooding caused by FPL construction. Earlier in 2020, FPL came under fire from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for falsifying safety information for its aging South Florida nuclear plant, Turkey Point. In 2019, FPL entered into a tentative settlement over an environmental lawsuit focused on groundwater contamination stemming from Turkey Point.
In Maine, another utility, Avangrid, filed a complaint against NextEra with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The complaint alleges that NextEra is illegally blocking a $1 billion corridor project and has refused to complete upgrades at its nuclear power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire, necessary by federal law and for the completion of the project. NextEra also donated $53,000 to Mainers for Local Power, a ballot campaign group opposed to the project, as reported in October 2020, and allegedly worked with numerous “shadow organizations” as outlined in the filed complaint.