Where's the world's largest manager of solar and wind power installations? Is it based in the Netherlands, Germany or renewables juggernaut China?
If you guessed none of the above, you are correct. The right answer is a company based in Juno, Florida - NextEra Energy, which has been operating for over 90 years.
While other companies have been agile at making a huge public relations push to scream loud and clear they are leaders in clean energy investment, NextEra has been largely silent and has stayed under the radar. The company, which says it employs over 14,000 people and does business in 30 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces, last reported over $16 billion in annual revenues and claims over $90 billion in assets.
The company, which the Wall Street Journal recently described as the "green Goliath," has built its portfolio methodically and silently. It does not boast a media superstar akin to Tesla's Elon Musk. NextEra also does not link renewables to its branding efforts in the way iconic companies such Google and Ikea have in recent years.
But what the company has accomplished is several years of nimbly chasing where the money is - as in federal tax credits and state-level environmental mandates. The company does not invest in wind or solar projects unless they have the commitment of customers and a solid business case - which has helped NextEra going no where near unsustainable mountains of debt, unlike former clean power titans such as Sun Edison.
NextEra's recent success also demolishes claims that the switch to renewables can lead to a cleaner environment at the cost of higher electric bills. The company says that its principal subsidiary, Florida Light & Power, bills its air conditioning-hungry customers 25 percent less than the national utility bill average - and has the lowest bills overall in the Sunshine State. Meanwhile, NextEra insists that all of its clean power installations have succeeded in lowering emissions at a rate equivalent to removing 12 million cars from the streets.
While NextEra's record is hardly spotless - some critics have accused the company of stifling the growth of rooftop solar in Florida - NextEra responds that its track record of investment in renewables speaks for itself. Furthermore, the company says its Florida Light & Power customers have bills that are lower on average than they were 10 years ago.
And NextEra keeps expanding its renewables business: this week, the company announced it had reached a 330 MW power purchase agreement with AT&T - just a few months after the companies signed a similar 520 MW deal earlier this year.
Image credit: NextEra Energy
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.