JUNO BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 24, 2020) — Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is continuing its longstanding support of education by donating 1,000 utility poles to Palm Beach County to help the school district ensure that more than 25,000 students and their families have access to the internet during this time of distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The county will begin installing the poles donated by FPL in December.
“Access to education for every child during this time of distance learning is really critical. These poles will help gain access into communities where there are gaps,” said Pam Rauch, vice president for external affairs and economic development for FPL. “At FPL, we are so thrilled that we can play a part to ensure this technology reaches the communities that need it the most.”
The utility poles, equipped with solar-powered Wi-Fi, will help the school district install access points in neighborhoods with 90 schools identified as launch points. FPL’s donation will leverage existing and new infrastructure and provides a cost savings of nearly $500,000 to the county.
“Businesses working with public entities to overcome a difficult situation is one of the positive outcomes from this pandemic,” said County Administrator Verdenia Baker. “I am really proud of this partnership we have developed with FPL.”
One of the issues that’s been amplified by the pandemic is the digital divide: a gap in access to broadband and high-speed internet for students residing in low-income areas. With a continued shift to virtual learning as communities slowly open back up and schools transition to scaled in-person instruction, the need to access technology is greater than ever.
“This will help to ensure all students in Palm Beach County have the ability to complete their schooling and be successful,” said Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy. “Our efforts to strengthen the broadband and infrastructure will last well beyond this pandemic for future generations of students.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, FPL, its sister NextEra Energy companies, and its employees have donated nearly $5 million in emergency funding to partner organizations on the frontlines providing assistance to those affected by COVID-19.
Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the largest energy company in the United States as measured by retail electricity produced and sold, serving more than 5.1 million customer accounts or an estimated 10 million+ people across the state of Florida. FPL’s typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is approximately 30% lower than the latest national average and among the lowest in the U.S. FPL’s service reliability is better than 99.98%, and its highly fuel-efficient power plant fleet is one of the cleanest among all electric companies nationwide. The company was recognized in 2020 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Escalent for the seventh consecutive year. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,900 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE), a clean energy company widely recognized for its efforts in sustainability, ethics and diversity, and has been ranked No. 1 in the electric and gas utilities industry in Fortune’s 2020 list of “World’s Most Admired Companies.” NextEra Energy is also the parent company of Gulf Power Company, which serves approximately 470,000 customers in eight counties throughout northwest Florida, and NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which, together with its affiliated entities, is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun and a world leader in battery storage. For more information about NextEra Energy companies, visit these websites: www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.GulfPower.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.
Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners
The Board of County Commissioners serves as the legislative and policy-setting body for county government; enacts countywide laws and authorizes programs and all expenditures of county funds. They also act as the Child Care Facilities Board, the Solid Waste Authority Governing Board, the Environmental Control Board and the Zoning Board. Palm Beach County is governed by seven elected commissioners and an appointed county administrator. The county administrator manages an annual budget of approximately $5.2 billion and oversees around 5,500 county employees in more than 40 departments, divisions and offices. Together, they must work in concert to provide quality services, programs and information to Palm Beach County’s estimated 1.5 million residents. To learn more, visit www.discover.pbcgov.org
Palm Beach County School District
The School District of Palm Beach County is the tenth-largest school district in the nation and the fifth-largest in the State of Florida with 179 District-operated schools, serving more than 197,000 students who speak 146 languages and dialects. As the largest employer in Palm Beach County, the school district has nearly 22,600 employees, including more than 13,000 teachers. To learn more about the School District of Palm Beach County, visit www.palmbeachschools.org.