December 9, 2023

Monday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 8/14/2023

Peak demand: Florida energy use is surging under this summer’s extreme heat

Florida’s extreme heat has air conditioners working overtime for longer this summer, driving up electricity bills and putting an additional strain on the grid, though utility companies say they’re able to handle it. Florida Power and Light, which primarily services South Florida as well as parts of the state’s northeast and southwest, has already reached peak demand multiple times this summer, in June, July, and August. Orlando Utilities Commission announced Thursday it has set new power records three times so far last week. Kissimmee Utility Authority also set back-to-back records. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel and Click Orlando.

Feds urge judge to toss suit brought by Florida, other states to upend flood insurance overhaul

The Biden administration last week urged a federal judge to reject a challenge by Florida and other states to an overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program that has led to higher premiums for many property owners. U.S. Department of Justice attorneys filed motions to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the overhaul and to deny a request by the states for a preliminary injunction. The motions said the changes, which became fully effective April 1 after being phased in, were designed to make the flood-insurance program “actuarially sound” and reflect the risks of each property. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Mixed signals: Amid economic boom, South Florida population shrinks

Just about every economic data point says South Florida is booming. Blue-chip companies are moving in, unemployment is low, job growth is solid and demand for office space is robust. The list continues: Home prices have soared, bank deposits have ballooned and apartment rents keep rising. But one key indicator — population growth — tells a different tale. [Source: Commercial Observer]

Florida to see less gas tax money as more electric vehicles hit the road

As more motorists drive electric vehicles, the change could put a dent in gasoline taxes, which play a key role in funding transportation projects in Florida, according to an analysis by state economists. The analysis, compiled by the state Revenue Estimating Conference, said the “market share of electric vehicles in Florida is expected to increase significantly over the course of the next 10 years” and pointed to factors such as more-affordable purchase prices, increased access to charging stations and extended battery life. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Orange juice prices to surge as US crops ravaged by disease and climate

Orange juice prices are expected to rise further in the US after a bacterial disease and extreme weather intensified by global heating ravaged this season’s crop of the citrus fruit. Last year Florida, which produces more than 90% of the US’s orange juice supply, was hit by Hurricane Ian, Hurricane Nicole and freezing conditions in quick succession, devastating orange producers in the Sunshine State. [Source: The Guardian]


› Tampa Bay’s red-hot tourism market has cooled
After a red-hot rebound in the post-COVID tourism market, the Tampa Bay region’s hospitality industry shows signs of cooling. Tourist tax collections are off, compared to a year ago, for consecutive months in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, and the monthly hotel occupancy rate has dipped more than 5% in Pasco County. Industry leaders, however, seem unfazed, attributing some of the declines to expanded options for travel as the rest of the world welcomed visitors after the pandemic.

› As Brightline nears Orlando launch, new drawbridge rules should keep high-speed trains moving
As recently as June, a U.S. Coast Guard plan to force a drawbridge to remain open for longer periods of time over the Okeechobee Waterway near Stuart prompted Brightline officials to worry that its new rail extension to Orlando could be slowed to a crawl. But now the Coast Guard, which by law regulates the bridge’s operation, is offering a new set of temporary operating procedures designed to satisfy the access needs of marine interests, Brightline and the Florida East Coast Railway, the latter of which owns the drawbridge.

› Striving to become Fox News en español, Miami-based Americano Media runs out of money
Americano Media, a Miami-based conservative media network that aims to become a Spanish-language version of Fox News, has run out of money and has been unable to pay employees for months as it seeks a new investor to stay afloat. The radio, online news and online TV network has not been able to pay salaries since May, employees told the Miami Herald, with the company admitting that many if not all of its 100-plus staffers have been working without pay, hoping to be compensated once the company finds an investor willing to throw it a lifeline.

› Questions buzz around Pasco’s new $37 million mosquito control campus
To properly serve a growing county, the Pasco County Mosquito Control District needs a more centralized and expandable campus, according to the agency’s executive director. Estimated price tag: $37 million. Critics disagree on the need, saying that expanding the existing Odessa location or creating satellite offices around the county would be more cost-effective. But Executive Director Adriane Rogers, who has had the job for three years, said she explored and discarded those options.

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