TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami / NSF) – Florida Supreme Court, Thursday, rejected your business group challenge for a decision that enabled Florida Power & Light to recover money from customers for a series of solar energy projects.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Florida Public Service Commission, which approved the FPL plan in 2017 to recover the costs of projects through basic electric rates. The Florida Florida Industrial Users Group, including large electricity electricity customers, challenged the approval, arguing, in part, that the projects would not be cost effective.
However, Chief Justice Charles Canady, in 16 pages, noted the 2016 settlement agreement which set basic rates for WPL. Part of this agreement enabled FPL to return to the Public Service Commission to seek increases for solar projects.
Canady wrote that the Florida Power Industry Group, often involved in utility regulation cases by the Public Service Commission, refused to participate in the 2016 flat rate arrangement with FPL.
“FIPUG (the group acronym) was given the opportunity to review and challenge the provisions of the settlement agreement it chose not to adopt a position on the settlement agreement,” wrote Canady. “By failing to challenge the provisions of the settlement agreement on the cost-effectiveness criteria and the flat-rate recovery mechanism for the projects (solar) at the time the settlement agreement was before the Commission (Public Service) and by default of appeal t In the final branch of the commission an order approving the settlement agreement, FIPUG waived its right to object to these provisions. ”
The case related to the commissioning of eight FPL solar plants which came online in 2017 and 2018, according to regulation. These projects were part of a wider FPL – and other utilities in Florida – push to build a huge number of solar panels across the state.
In last year's filing at the Supreme Court, solicitors for the Florida Group Industrial Industry Group said that the commission's 2017 decision on the eight FPL plants allowed almost $ 1 billion to be recovered from taxpayers.
“FIPUG supports renewable energy. However, FIPUG made clear at the hearing below (at the Public Service Commission) that this support for renewable energy was conditional on the cost-effectiveness and need of renewable energy projects, ”wrote solicitors. the group. “In this case, FPL seeks the commission's approval to recover rates from taxpayers for solar energy projects that are neither required nor cost-effective.” T
The group argued, in part, that the Public Service Commission did not use proper standards when it evaluated the solar projects. He said that the commission should consider whether the projects are “prudent”, and a standard used in other types of utility regulatory cases.
But the Supreme Court said that the Commission was not required to use this standard for projects in the 2016 settlement agreement. Canady also wrote that last year the Supreme Court rejected arguments about the standards in the Sierra Club challenge for the rest of the FPL settlement. .
“We rejected the Sierra Club argument that it was essential for the commission to independently apply a prudent standard to one of the other projects contained in the settlement agreement and stated that the commission was only concerned with its public interest standard. implementation in the settlement agreement as a whole, ”said Thursday's ruling. “If, as proposed by FIPUG here, the later commission needed to be prudent or a decision was required on the (solar) projects, it would have to leave the settlement order, which is contrary for the administrative doctrine. ” t
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