This past Saturday gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum told members of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida in Tampa that he was against the Sabal Trail Transmission natural gas pipeline and fracking.
In written remarks provided to Tampa Bay Times, Gillum said “I oppose the Sabal Trail Pipeline on principle and next week I will vote to ban fracking in Tallahassee – and I’ll put my record on that issue up against anyone on either side of the aisle.”
Ironically, the same energy policies gubernatorial candidate Gillum is now speaking against on the campaign trail are policies that have produced significant benefits to the citizens of Tallahassee for the last several years.
The City of Tallahassee electric utility, a city function that the Mayor and the City Commission has jurisdiction over, generates electricity using fuel that is composed of 95% natural gas.
Over the last several years, low electric rates, due to the fall in natural gas prices, have been used by city administrators and elected officials as examples of how government is working for the citizens of Tallahassee.
And the financial benefits have been significant.
The City recently said that electric utility customers are paying $150 million less annually than they paid in 2008.
In 2016 Mayor Andrew Gillum said this:
“With the hot summer months ahead, residential and commercial customers will appreciate the significant financial savings that come with reduced electric and natural gas rates. The City’s residential electric rates remain below the state average, and with this rate reduction, our local small businesses will now enjoy the lowest rate in Florida.”
How did this happen?
The City of Tallahassee receives natural gas via a pipeline that runs through Leon county and is owned by Florida Gas Transmission, LLC (FGT). The pipeline carries natural gas provided by companies, like Conoco Phillips, that employs fracking to produce natural gas at historically low prices.
The FGT pipeline is much like the Sabal Trail Transmission (STT) line. In fact, the STT was approved by federal regulators during the Obama administration to provide natural gas to electric utilities in central and south Florida who no longer burn coal for environmental reasons.
Will Gillum’s energy policy positions in his run for governor impact his decisions as Mayor of Tallahassee?
It appears so.
On Wednesday the City Commission will vote on an ordinance prohibiting fracking for the purposes of oil or gas extraction in Leon county.
The ordinance was brought forward by Commissioner Nancy Miller and Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Does this mean Mayor Gillum may not continue to support the use of natural gas by the City of Tallahassee which is produced by fracking?