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Best in Class: FPL Rides Like the Wind

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When it comes to alternative energy, few people would figure Florida could outdo California. But the Sunshine State's rate-regulated utility, FPL Group (FPL), can teach a few lessons.

Led by Chief Executive Officer Lewis Hay III, FPL Group is the biggest U.S. producer of wind energy and ranks No. 2 in the world. The Miami-based company operates in 27 states, generating annual revenue of about $15 billion.

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FPL Group consists of two primary divisions. Florida Power & Light is an electric utility that serves a population of about 9 million Floridians. But its crown jewel is NextEra Energy Resources, which stretches across the country and into Canada.

NextEra will thrive amid the clean-energy initiatives that will emerge from the new Congress and the Obama administration. The White House has proposed limiting carbon emissions by reducing the use of fossil fuels through, among other measures, a market-based "carbon cap" on businesses.

The utility's commitment to energy conservation dates back three decades. (Hay joined the company in 1999.) Since 1980, FPL Group's energy efficiency and conservation programs have succeeded in avoiding the need for 12 medium-sized power plants, which, according to U.S. Department of Energy data, is the best performance among all utilities in the country.

NextEra's 50 wind facilities include 7,500 turbines in 16 states. FPL Group plans to add as much as 10,000 megawatts of wind-generated power by the end of 2012 and, eventually, up to 30,000 megawatts. It now has about 6,400 megawatts. (One megawatt is sufficient to serve the electrical needs of about 700 homes.)

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