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FPL to Cut 300 Jobs, Go Forward With Plant Upgrades

FPL Group Inc., owner of Florida’s largest utility, plans to cut 300 jobs and go forward with $2 billion in upgrades to two power plants after a January rate ruling forced the company to review its spending plans.

The Florida Power & Light Co. utility will modernize its Riviera Beach and Cape Canaveral plants, Juno Beach, Florida-based FPL said today in a statement. The upgrades will reduce particulate emissions by 88 percent and will save customers as much as $950 million over the life of the plants, FPL said.

FPL suspended $10 billion in utility investments in January, after Florida regulators granted a rate increase that was 92 percent smaller than the company requested. A proposed natural-gas pipeline, which also was among the projects FPL tabled, won’t be needed until 2016, according to the statement.

“These decisions were not easy, but we believe that the near-term focus on keeping operating costs in line while continuing to invest in our infrastructure to deliver the best value, service and reliability over the long term represents a balanced and responsible approach to meeting the needs of our customers,” Armando J. Olivera, chief executive officer of Florida Power & Light, said in the statement.

FPL is offering a voluntary retirement plan to some employees. As of Dec. 31, FPL had 10,500 employees.

“The most recent customer and sales projections for 2010 and beyond now have dropped even lower than the levels we had forecast as a part of our rate-case filing,” Olivera said. “New housing construction, which drives so much of our workload and growth, is at an all-time low, 69 percent below the levels we were seeing in 2007.”

FPL rose $1.36, or 2.7 percent, to $52.05 as of the 4 p.m. close of New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have risen 7.7 percent this month.

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