Cheryl M. Martin serves as Senior Vice President of Regulatory and External Affairs for Chesapeake Utilities Corporation.
What does your business do in Florida?
Florida Public Utilities Company (FPU), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, is an energy company providing natural gas, electricity and propane to commercial, residential and industrial customers across Florida. FPU owns and operates about 3,200 miles of natural gas distribution mains across 22 counties in Florida and serves approximately 92,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers throughout the state. The Company also owns and operates electric utility assets across four counties in Florida, distributing electricity to approximately 33,000 customers through our Northeast division in Fernandina Beach, serving Nassau county; and our Northwest division in Marianna, serving Jackson, Liberty and Calhoun counties.
How would you like to see Florida’s infrastructure improve by 2030?
Increased consumer demand for CNG, RNG and LNG products are among the drivers for Chesapeake Utilities Corporation’s focus on sustainable investments that will improve infrastructure not only in Florida but also in neighboring states. Because of the substantial supply of agricultural and other organic material in Florida, the state can be a catalyst for the production of RNG in the area for agricultural producers and the gas distribution system. As trade increases at our ports, maritime and fleet vehicles will demand not only sustainable fuel options, but also an expanded infrastructure that continues to be reliable and resilient.
Chesapeake Utilities continues to pursue pipeline expansion projects within the state that will safely and reliably serve residential areas and businesses that are essential to the economic growth of our communities. Through Florida’s GRIP, we have replaced nearly all of our qualifying distribution mains and we will continue to take steps to ensure that pipelines continue to be safe methods of energy delivery to the communities where we live, work and serve.
Do you have any projects or advancements in progress you would like to highlight?
- In Nov. 2022, we committed $100,000 to support communities in Florida devastated by Hurricane Ian, with donations to the American Red Cross, Feeding Florida, Volunteer Florida and the Florida Farm Bureau Hurricane Ian Relief Fund for Agriculture. The funds expand access to shelters, accelerate debris removal, support recovery from agricultural losses, provide food and personal items and enable the delivery of other supplies and resources to those in need following the massive storm.
- In 2019, FPU committed more than $65 million to the electric service restoration effort, rebuilding the system with upgraded storm-hardened poles and equipment. We also created new services to improve reliability and reduce the number and duration of outages providing a safer environment for our customers.
- FPU was recognized as a Top Workplace in Central Florida for the past three years, and Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, Florida Public Utilities’ parent company, earned the 2022 Top Workplaces USA award for mid-sized companies. The Top Workplaces list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner Energage, LLC, a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution and connection, among others.
- In 2022, we successfully tested a blend of hydrogen and natural gas to fuel power the Company’s Eight Flags Energy Combined Heat and Power (CHP) gas turbine plant in Nassau County, Florida. The test program was intended to refine the operational practices and requirements for safe transportation and injection of hydrogen into a distribution system. It provided real-world operational data that will help demonstrate the practical use of hydrogen blended natural gas in an industrial application, and serves as a model for industrial gas customer emission reductions.