In a move that could help speed up a power-plant project in Broward County, state regulators Thursday approved a proposal that will exempt Florida Power & Light from seeking possible alternatives to the project.
The decision by the Public Service Commission was an initial step as FPL seeks to move ahead with building a 1,163-megawatt plant that would replace two aging generating units in Dania Beach. The utility still needs to get other approvals for the project, including a critical approval known as a “determination of need.”
But Thursday's decision provides an exemption to a requirement that utilities issue what are known as “requests for proposals,” to help ensure that new plants are the most cost-effective alternatives. “This request, if granted, will enable us to expedite a great project,” FPL attorney Will Cox said before regulators voted on the proposal. “It will bring cost savings to our customers, result in lower emissions and lower, on a system-wide basis, our natural-gas usage.”
Patricia Christensen, an attorney for the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers, said her office was “comforted” by assurances that the commission could look again at the issue if an alternative to the new plant emerges during the determination-of-need process. The Sierra Club, however, submitted written arguments urging the commission to reject the exemption. The environmental group contended that FPL “effectively asks for permission to ignore other options,” such as renewable energy.