Preserving Wildlife and Habitat

At NextEra Energy, we're committed to being an industry leader in environmental protection and stewardship, and that includes wildlife and habitat protection. We have operations across the U.S. and Canada, so we're keenly aware of the potential impacts that existing and future operations may have to wildlife and their habitat. This is why we have environmental policies and programs in place at both the corporate and local levels to avoid and minimize these impacts and to address any remaining impacts through appropriate mitigation measures. Here's what we do:

  • Before we build a power plant or other electric facilities, we work hard to make sure we understand the local ecosystem and what it takes to be a partner in its preservation and to be a good neighbor to all the species that live there.
  • As part of that work, we consider the presence of any threatened or endangered species and the proximity to valuable wildlife corridors, wetlands or other ecologically important areas. We make efforts to avoid these areas entirely. If we can't do that, we seek to minimize and mitigate the impact of our developments to affected areas.
  • Once a project is operating, we continue to monitor potential impacts to biodiversity that may occur. For example, at wind sites, we implement a voluntary Wildlife Response and Reporting System (WRRS) to monitor long-term avian and bat interactions. We also voluntarily adhere to the FWS Wind Energy Guidelines issued in 2012, and conduct a minimum of one year of formal post-construction mortality monitoring at all U.S. wind sites constructed after March 2012.
  • In Ontario, our company complies with Ministry of Natural Resources guidance, which requires that we perform a minimum of three years of post-construction mortality monitoring for birds and bats, in addition to other project-specific monitoring conditions.
  • At several of our solar sites in California, we’re required to conduct two years of post-construction monitoring as defined by our Bird and Bat Conservation Strategies.

We have long adhered to numerous policies and programs to protect threatened and endangered species. We follow all federal and state regulations including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). We also go above and beyond those regulations by making important contributions to protect a number of vulnerable species and habitat areas. Some examples of our wildlife-related programs are featured below.

Eagle Nest Platforms

Nesting platform success in Florida

  • Bald eagles are found in all 50 U.S. states, including throughout FPL's service territory in Florida.
  • A few years ago, a bald eagle built its nest on a 230-kV transmission line in Volusia County, Fla. To protect the nest and the eagles that would be raising their family in it, and because the surrounding area lacked viable nest trees, FPL for the first time ever constructed an independent pole and platform to provide the birds with a nearby nest location. With input from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the FWS, the platform was designed to provide long-term support of the nest. Within 45 days of the nest transfer, a pair of eagles began to add onto and occupy the nest, and not long after that, a baby eaglet hatched in the nest!
Duette Preserve – Kestrel Boxes
  • The colorful Southeastern American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. Unfortunately, its numbers have dwindled so much that researchers cannot say how many of the threatened species still exist in Florida.
  • In March 2013, while installing new, more storm-resilient power line poles and replacing old wooden poles in an area of its service territory, FPL identified an opportunity to assist the kestrel. Line workers attached kestrel boxes to four of the new poles - a first for the company - and also preserved the old wooden poles that contained inactive nests.
  • In 2015, as FPL continues to upgrade the poles in this area of Kestrel habitat, we’ve included nest boxes on an additional 20 poles. We’re also working with the Audubon Society toward a program to monitor the boxes for nesting success.
Concrete Pole Donation for Artificial Reefs
  • According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida is the only state in the continental United States to have extensive shallow coral reef formations near its coasts. Coral reefs create specialized habitats that provide shelter, food and breeding sites for numerous plants and animals, including spiny lobster, snapper and other commercial and recreational species.
  • In addition, the FWC administers an artificial reef program to enhance private recreational and charter fishing and diving opportunities, provide a socio-economic benefit to local coastal communities, and increase reef fish habitat.
  • A few years ago, FPL removed 130 concrete poles in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and replaced them with about 60 poles that are more storm resilient. The next year, FPL donated the 130 original poles, weighing about 2,000 tons, or the equivalent of 1,250 mid-sized cars, to St. Lucie County to create two new artificial reefs. These new reefs are in addition to an artificial reef created several years before that using FPL-donated material. The reefs provide additional habitat for marine life, while also generating economic opportunities for area businesses that provide services for divers and anglers enjoying the reefs.
Sea Turtle Program: St Lucie Nuclear Plant
  • We have sponsored monitoring of sea turtle nesting activities in South Florida since 1971. In 2015, 7,878 loggerhead, 860 green, and 365 leatherback nests were recorded on South Hutchinson Island. During summer, FPL employees conduct popular turtle walks along the beach to allow visitors to observe nesting turtles in their native habitat.
  • Artificial light on or near nesting beaches can negatively affect the nesting process by interfering with normal nocturnal behaviors of threatened and endangered sea turtles. That's why we turn off about 500 streetlights when turtle-nesting season in Florida begins -- every year in March in six counties on the Atlantic coast and in May in all other counties -- and we turn them back on when the season is over at the end of October. We've also equipped dozens more of our streetlights with special shields to re-direct light away from the beach and away from sea turtle nests.

Sea Turtle Program: St Lucie Nuclear Plant

  • Due to the location of the plant and the design and operation of its intake cooling water system, sea turtles sometimes inadvertently enter the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant's cooling canal system. A net system keeps the turtles safely corralled in the canal, and trained biologists on site from the Inwater Research Group systematically gather, measure, weigh, tag, and release the turtles. During 2015, 465 sea turtles were removed from the intake canal, including 274 loggerheads, 181 greens, 7 Kemps’ ridley, two leatherbacks and one hawksbill. Nearly all are released back to the ocean. Turtles with injuries or health issues are transported to an animal rescue center that the FWC recommends. Through this program, FPL performs a valuable service to researchers by providing sea turtle data, which is normally hard to obtain (especially for males).
Manatee Program
  • The Florida manatee is Florida's state marine mammal and is an endangered species. Manatees play an important role in the habitat of the shallow rivers, bays, canals and coastal waters they call home.
  • During cold weather, these graceful, grazing creatures congregate at the warm water outflows near power plants. FPL has worked closely with regulatory agencies and environmental organizations for more than 30 years to ensure that manatees are protected, and our leadership role has been recognized by numerous environmental organizations worldwide. We have conducted hundreds of aerial surveys, published and distributed thousands of pieces of educational literature, and sponsored extensive research on manatee habitat and behavior.
  • FPL is supporting telemetry studies at two facilities where biologists will tag and track a total of 15 manatees. Data collected during the studies will support an understanding of where these animals travel during winter months and the environmental conditions of the areas they frequent.
  • Several FPL's facilities where manatees congregate have been or are being modernized. During construction, FPL installed temporary heating systems so manatees could continue to benefit from warm water during that period.
  • On the Lake Worth Lagoon, FPL’s new manatee education center, next to its Riviera Beach Clean Energy Center where manatees have long gathered to keep warm during the winter months. helps raise awareness about the importance of protecting this gentle species.
Crocodile Management Program
  • In the late 1970s, the American crocodile was on the brink of extinction. In the 1980s, FPL initiated a crocodile management program at its Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant south of Miami, to benefit these ancient reptiles. Given the 5,900-acre, man-made cooling canal system at the plant offers ideal nesting conditions, the management program includes protecting these nesting areas, completing population surveys, relocating hatchlings within the canal system for better survival, and regulating plant activity at night and during nesting season. Over the past 37 years, 7,131 hatchlings have been tagged from 554 nests at Turkey Point.
  • FPL recently added two new monitoring components for crocodiles to assist in crocodile research.
  • In recent years, the crocodile population has rebounded, and in 2007, the U.S. government down-listed the American crocodile from an endangered species to a threatened species - a notable accomplishment. In fact, FPL's conservation efforts were recognized by the Fish and Wildlife Service for supporting this improvement.
Everglades Mitigation Bank
  • The Everglades is known the world over for its extraordinary diversity of wildlife − from Florida panthers, to manatees, crocodiles and birds such as roseate spoonbills, egrets and wood storks. The National Wildlife Federation reports that more than 300 species of birds alone call the Everglades home.
  • A critical link to the success of restoring the Everglades ecosystem to its natural condition is FPL's Everglades Mitigation Bank, a nearly 14,000-acre project located in southern Miami-Dade County adjacent to our Turkey Point Power Plant. Mitigation banking generally involves creating, enhancing, or preserving wetlands on a large tract at one location to provide mitigation credits to companies to offset unavoidable wetland impacts elsewhere.
  • This location is home to 46 protected wildlife species and is a major contributor to a seamless wildlife corridor between the Everglades and Biscayne National Park.
  • Numerous projects in the mitigation bank have been completed, including removal of historic roads and canals, removal of hydrologic barriers, replanting of vegetation and the installation of over 40 control structures to restore historical water distribution patterns for more than 9,000 acres of sawgrass marsh, high marsh, forested tree islands, and mangrove habitat. FPL also took its extensive knowledge and lessons learned from its crocodile management program at the Turkey Point Plant and established a similar crocodile habitat in the mitigation bank.
  • For more details on our mitigation banking activities, please visit https://www.fpl.com/environment/wildlife/mitigation-bank.html
FPL Avian Protection Plan
  • More than 500 species of birds are estimated to exist in Florida and countless others migrate to or through our state. It is not uncommon for many of these birds to take refuge on or otherwise interact with electric utility poles or other equipment.
  • FPL has been committed to the protection of endangered and migratory birds for nearly three decades. In 2007, FPL developed an Avian Protection Plan (APP), which provides employees with a single resource for avian risk mitigation that is consistent with industry and federal guidelines. In the field, FPL operates in strict adherence to the APP. The APP also provides the framework for implementation of FPL's Avian Protection Program to reduce bird mortalities, document utility actions, and improve service reliability.
  • As part of this industry-leading program, FPL proactively retrofits poles and equipment to make them more bird friendly. To identify high-risk distribution structures, FPL uses an Avian Risk Assessment Model, a first of its kind in the energy industry. Through 2015, we have invested millions of dollars to retrofit or construct thousands of poles to avian-friendly standards.
  • As an example, osprey will sometimes try to build nests on power line structures, which can cause outages. FPL builds nesting platforms next to osprey nests to lure the birds away from the power lines and installs special devices on the poles’ cross arms to keep the birds from nesting there again.
Barley Barber Swamp
  • The 400-acre Barley Barber Swamp in Martin County, Fla., consists of an ancient cypress-stand ecosystem that is home to diverse fauna, including alligators, otters, wading birds and bald eagles, providing a rare glimpse of "old Florida."
  • In 1972, when constructing its Martin power plant and cooling pond nearby, FPL set aside Barley Barber as a wildlife preserve.
  • To improve the state of this natural area, FPL has implemented a non-native invasive species removal program. For example, the Old World climbing fern, an invasive weed with origins in Africa and Asia, grows very quickly and creates a mat that covers native species, blocking sunlight and strangling anything growing beneath it. If left unchecked, it ultimately destroys the ecosystem and eliminates habitat for native flora and fauna. FPL is partnering with researchers to document the effectiveness of bio- controls for this invasive species at the swamp.
  • In addition to being a wildlife sanctuary, the area is also significant from an archaeological perspective. Pottery fragments and other artifacts have been found on the site, indicating use by Native Americans between 300 and 900 years ago.
  • FPL has partnered with the Treasured Lands Foundation, a local nonprofit organization, to provide free, public tours of the swamp. For more information, please visit www.BarleyBarber.org.
Seabrook Station Estuary Project
  • The 5,000-acre Hampton-Seabrook Estuary is home to the largest expanse of salt marshes in New Hampshire. These marshes, along with their tidal flats, offer important habitat for a variety of breeding and migratory birds, especially salt marsh sparrows and shorebirds.
  • NextEra Energy Resources supports the New Hampshire Estuary Project to improve water quality in this area, as well as to work with various state and federal agencies to identify ways to prevent entrainment and impingement of aquatic species at our nearby Seabrook Station nuclear plant.
  • In addition, Seabrook's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requires the monitoring of soft shell clam populations in the Hampton-Seabrook harbor to demonstrate that the clam populations are not being impacted by plant operations. Voluntarily, and at no charge, we provide the clam data to the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) for use in its State of the Estuaries assessments. NextEra Energy Seabrook has maintained this excellent partnership with PREP for about 20 years.
  • Seabrook Station is also home to The Seabrook Science & Nature Center, which gives people the opportunity to learn about nuclear energy and the thriving ecosystem that surrounds the plant. For more information, please visit: http://www.nexteraenergyresources.com/what/nuclear_seabrook_center.shtml
Jamaica Bay Project
  • In New York we partnered with the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City to improve marine habitat and water quality in Jamaica Bay with a donation of $100,000. Located near the NextEra Energy Resources Bayswater and Jamaica Bay clean energy centers in Far Rockaway we provided timely financial support and data to the Park Service enabling them to restore Bay seagrasses and other marine habitat as well as provide public education facilities concerning Bay wetlands.
NextEra Energy Research Partnerships

Research is the key to understanding our impact on local ecosystems and wildlife and what we can do better to enable both to prosper.

As the largest producer of wind energy in the U.S., NextEra Energy is committed to better understanding bat and avian interactions with wind turbines to reduce impacts. To improve our understanding, we have partnered with government agencies, education institutions and other industry representatives. Below are the major wildlife initiatives we are currently participating in at the national level. We hold leadership positions in many of these collaborations, and in many cases, we have founded the cooperative effort, as well as provided major funding: