Like so many things in politics these days, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado’s letter characterizing Senate Bill 1048 as an attempt to allow utility companies to ignore essential local land use regulations is inaccurate and misleading.
I did not file this bill blindly to place the interest of any utility over local land use regulations. I studied the issue at length, read the relevant court opinion, and drafted a statutory fix that merely allows Florida’s Power Plant Siting Act (PPSA) to perform as originally intended and in accordance with historical precedence.
In a recent decision involving the siting of a Florida Power & Light (FPL) transmission line, the Third District Court of Appeals identified a technical defect in the PPSA. The judge opined that FPL was not exempt from local land use regulations only because they had not already purchased the public rights-of-way and corridors to build the transmission line before the certification process.
Technically, the court was correct. However, practically speaking, their ruling was contrary to the intent of the PPSA. The purpose and vision of the PPSA was to create a centralized permitting process for licensing utility projects. Requiring a utility company to comply with local land use regulations before obtaining approval to site critical state infrastructure frustrates the intent of the statute and makes new projects nearly impossible.
Senate Bill 1048 does nothing to undermine local governments or change a process that has successfully sited thousands of utility projects for four decades. This legislation merely fixes a technical glitch and allows the siting board to operate in accordance with its statutory intent.
If we fail to address the flaws identified by the court’s decision, Florida will lose its ability to efficiently site critical energy, water and gas infrastructure to accommodate our state’s rapidly growing needs.
Tom Lee, Florida Senator, R-Brandon