Written by Miami Today on December 27, 2012
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SPARKING DEALS: Commissioners gave Miami-Dade the green light to line up customers for excess electricity the county’s Resource Recovery Facility produces. The mayor’s office asked commissioners to short-circuit rules that require their approval before deals are cut to take advantage of current market conditions. "This proposal is to allow for an orderly and efficient method to negotiate a replacement power sales contract with a single entity or potentially a series of contracts with multiple entities as part of an overall strategy to obtain the best long-term value for the county," Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak wrote. The more than $31 million a year the county gets from selling electricity from its recycling plant could plunge 30% to 70% when a contract with North Carolina-based Progress Energy expires Nov. 13, 2013. The county now sells Progress more than 340,000 megawatts generated at the plant, 6990 NW 97th Ave., at $85 per megawatt hour. But energy rates have tumbled, in part because of abundant natural gas. Current rates range from a high of $60 per megawatt hour to a low of $25, which could slash annual county revenues $9 million to $21 million.
ZOO STIMULUS: Economic stimulus plans linger on in Miami-Dade four and a half years after county government established them as an antidote to the Great Recession. The county’s Infrastructure and Land Use Committee has voted 5-0 to add another project to the stimulus list: the Zoo Miami Florida Exhibit and the zoo’s front entry project. The measure, sponsored by Dennis Moss, also would direct the administration to contract with a construction manager at risk to do the project at a guaranteed maximum price. The issue now goes to the full county commission.
TURNPIKE BONANZA: The Florida Turnpike’s management is projecting a 20% revenue growth this fiscal year as a result of a toll rate increase that took effect June 24 — the first rate hike since 2004. Florida law henceforth will index annual toll increases to the Consumer Price Index and levy those increases automatically on electronic toll payers. Toll revenues totaled nearly $609 million in fiscal 2012, up 1.5% from 2011, according to Fitch Ratings, which rated the turnpike’s revenue bonds AA- with a stable outlook this month. The turnpike cut its expenses 3.5% last year, Fitch said, "reflecting in large part the transition [to] all-electronic tolling on the Homestead Extension."
NAME CHANGE: Miami-Dade commissioners last week renamed Jackson Mental Health Hospital. The new name is Jackson Behavioral Health Hospital. The Financial Recovery Board, which oversees Jackson Health System, had asked for the change.