Jim Bush is Florida Power and Light’s director of external affairs for most of the northern tier of Florida. As such, he is one of the many people who helps ensure that residents have the power they need.
Many people don’t give a lot of thought about the power coming into their homes beyond flipping a switch and seeing the lights come on. But I believe FPL has a lot of people working behind the scenes and a lot of resources devoted to ensuring that the electricity is there when we need it. Can you give us an idea of what it takes to meet the needs of FPL customers?
There is a whole lot that goes on behind the scenes that enables FPL to be consistently recognized as a national leader in service reliability.
We have invested more than $5 billion over the past 15 years in our system to make our system stronger, smarter and more resilient to severe weather. We have hardened our main power lines, replacing wooden transmission structures with new ones made of steel or concrete. We have installed over 5 million smart meters and more than 155,000 intelligent devices and switches along the energy grid using advanced technology that helps detect problems and restore service faster if outages occur.
We also proactively review about 15,000 miles of power lines each year to trim and remove vegetation where necessary to keep lines clear and prevent outages. Our service reliability has improved by over 40% over the past decade and FPL has been named the most reliable electric utility in the United States in five of the past six years.
This is something that doesn’t happen by accident but happens because we are focused on our customers and the communities we serve. Our entire FPL team works hard each day to deliver the most reliable electricity possible, which also happens to be among the most affordable and cleanest in the nation.
Has FPL made any improvements or taken on any initiatives in recent years that consumers should know about?
FPL’s investments in highly efficient power plants that run on clean, U.S.-produced natural gas have saved customers nearly $11 billion in fuel costs since 2001. As of 2021, FPL ended its coal-powered generation in Florida. All of FPL’s new energy centers are more than 30% more fuel-efficient than their predecessors, which will help keep our customers’ bills low.
FPL also began the Storm Secure Underground Program, a three-year pilot to determine cost-effective ways to replace overhead power lines with more reliable underground lines in select neighborhoods to enhance reliability in good weather and bad.
Additionally, Florida is in the midst of the one of the largest solar expansions in U.S. history, and FPL is the driving force behind this endeavor. Several years ago, FPL announced a plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030 (the motto is 30 by 30) and we have already made a lot of progress in fulfilling this vision, which will also represent a 67% reduction in carbon emissions. By the time it is said and done, Florida will be a world leader in solar energy production and, most importantly, the air that all Floridians breathe will be much cleaner because of it.
Expanding zero-emissions solar energy is not only good for the environment, but it is also good for our customers as it helps us drive down their energy costs.
What is your role at FPL?
I am FPL’s Director of External Affairs for the North and Northwest Regions – which covers from St. Augustine to Pensacola.
Can you give us an idea of your career arc, how you got to where you are today?
I joined FPL directly out of the U.S. Army where I served as an infantry officer. FPL, together with its parent company NextEra Energy, proudly employ nearly 2,000 veterans. That is nearly 13% of our workforce.
I believe there are a lot of similarities between the military and FPL as both are mission-driven organizations. The majority of my career at FPL has been in operational roles in the Power Delivery division, which directly oversees the energy grid.
I have also been fortunate to serve in other departments within FPL, which has helped me gain appreciation of how much is involved in providing the best service possible to customers.
What do you like best about what you do?
I’m all about service, and the most rewarding part of being with FPL is that it allows me to serve my community as well as all FPL customers throughout Florida.
What do you like about living here on the First Coast?
Throughout my life I have lived in many different locations, and I was even stationed overseas in the military, so I definitely have an appreciation for where we live and feel blessed to call North Florida and the First Coast home. We have the best of everything – climate, people and culture. I couldn’t ask for a better place to live and raise my family.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I like to spend as much time with my family as possible and also try to find ways to give back to the community, whether it be serving on a local board, as a volunteer with Boy Scouts or a youth sports coach. Personally, I also like to stay active and exercise as well as spending time in the outdoors.
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