UTILITY MERGER NextEra Energy, Inc. plans to purchase Gulf Power, Florida City Gas and two power plants in Central Florida from the Southern Company as part of a $6.5 billion deal. Subject to federal approval, the deal would extend NextEra Energy’s territory making it the largest electric utility in the State. Gulf Power has 450,000 customers in eight counties in the Panhandle and Florida City Gas has 110,000 natural gas customers in Brevard, Indian River, Miami-Dade and St. Lucie counties. NextEra currently has about five million customers in Florida.
HOMELAND SECURITY GRANTS The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified the Orlando area as one of 32 metropolitan areas susceptible to terrorism. Central Florida is eligible for a portion of $580 million in grants that address immediate security needs and ensure public safety.
WILDFIRE A contractor hired by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to burn a 480-acre area within the Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area is being blamed for a large wildfire. The prescribed burn took place on June 18th and was extinguished six hours later. Investigators believe the fire reignited on June 24th and crossed over 600 acres of private land, destroying several dozen properties and leaving about 125 people in the Eastpoint, Florida area homeless.
SCALLOPS Waters in the bay off Pasco County opened to scallop harvesting from July 20th-29th for the first time since 1994. The region includes all state waters south of the Hernando-Pasco county line and north of the Anclote Key Lighthouse in northern Pinellas County, and includes all waters of the Anclote River. For more information about scalloping, visit http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/bay-scallops/
LIONFISH Fishing tournaments held around Florida have helped remove more than 15,000 lionfish from Florida waters. The 2018 Lionfish Challenge started May 19th on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day and runs through September 3rd. More than 200 people have already registered to participate.
BEAR RESISTANT CANS Local governments will have the chance again this year to help homeowners purchase be-proof trash cans. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will make $500,000 available to help cover the cost of the lock-top cans which are believed to help limit bear-human interactions.
ORIENTAL FRUIT FLIES The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) is actively monitoring 56,000 fruit fly traps throughout the state. In July, oriental fruit flies were found in Miami farmlands. According to DACS, the oriental fruit fly is one of the world’s most threatening exotic fruit flies and can infest over 430 different fruits, vegetables and nuts. No new activity has been detected.