FPL Leverages Technology for Efficiency

August 23, 2013


FPL Leverages Technology for Efficiency

Florida Power & Light (FPL) is becoming more efficient. It is a company that has always believed in processes and a very strong proponent of business philosophies such as Continuous Improvement and Six Sigma. This efficiency can come at a human cost and as a result it is planning on cutting positions that will no longer be needed due to these technological efficiencies. The South Florida Business Journal reports that:

Florida Power & Light and its sister company NextEra Energy Resources will cut 1,000 jobs from their current total of 15,000 positions over the next two years. The cuts are mostly due to more efficient technology.

The vast majority of the cuts will come from open positions or early retirement options, said FPL president Eric Silagy.

Some pink slips will be handed out to around 160 people over the next 26 months; half of those layoffs will occur next week.

“It’s not easy. None of these things are easy,” Silagy said in a phone interview. “We have a culture of continuous improvement. With all the dynamic changes in the marketplace and investments in technology, we felt it was time to look at everything and see what we can do better.”

Silagy said the number of Florida employees losing jobs through immediate layoffs was about 60.

The news was broken to employees in a large “town hall” style meeting. FPL and NextEra Energy Resources are owned by publicly traded NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE).

In 2012, Fortune ranked FPL first overall among electric and gas utilities on its list of the World’s Most Admired Companies. Shares of NextEra were down in Wednesday trading. But shares rose $1.41, or 1.75 percent, to $82.19 cents in after market trading by 4:45 p.m.

Silagy said the layoffs are a result of greater efficiencies due to technology.

For example, FPL recently demolished several fuel oil power plants including Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Replacing the older plants are new natural gas-fired plants. The old plants required staff of 135; the new plants only require 38 people.

NextEra had studied overlap in jobs as part of its Project Momentum.

Silagy said no jobs were eliminated if they had any impact on safety or security, but some cuts were made at the company’s nuclear plants due to recent modernization projects.

“We won’t do anything to impact safety, or the kind of high reliability customers expect,” Silagy said.

Silagy acknowledged that most meter readers were also being eliminated as the company switches over to net metering – meters that are readable by remote technology. But he said those jobs were mostly temporary positions and wouldn’t count toward the 1,000 positions announced Wednesday.

“Over time these cuts will also help us grow and add more positions,” Silagy said.

FPL is a major Florida organization and ultimately its growth can only help the local businesses and consumers.

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