Sierra Club files lawsuit to try to stop FPL rate hike
The Sierra Club asked the Florida Supreme Court Tuesday to block a $811 million rate hike by Florida Power & Light over the next four years, arguing that regulators violated state law when they failed to determine if a billion-dollar expansion of gas-powered power plants are needed.
The Florida Public Service Commission in November unanimously approved a settlement agreement reached by FPL and various consumer groups to raise utility bills by $400 million beginning in January, to be followed by $411 million in rate hikes in the next three years.
The commission did not address any of the opponents’ concerns and instead touted the agreement as good for the customers and good for FPL.
“The settlement ... produces rates that are fair just and reasonable and in the public interest,” said PSC Chair Julie Brown. She commended FPL for “smart, prudent decisions” that have led to the lowest rates in the state.
"The PSC is supposed to make sure our energy sources are safe, reasonable and reliable,” said Sierra Club Florida Chapter Chair Mark Walters in a press release.“Instead, they’ve chosen to let FPL leave us vulnerable to price spikes when investments in solar and energy efficiency are proving to be safer and cheaper in states across the country.”
Here is FPL's response from spokesperson Sarah Gatewood:
The Sierra Club is an extreme group that takes extreme positions, so while we are disappointed, we’re not surprised at the actions taken today by this Washington-based lobbying group. Apparently they’re more interested in generating headlines and donations than working with the cleanest electric company in Florida and the only electric utility in the Southeast United States to already be in compliance with the EPA’s 2030 Clean Power Plan today. Rather than recognizing our innovative approach to running our business and the resulting significant benefits for all customers, including 1,200 megawatts of cost-effective new solar right here in Florida over the next four years, this out-of-state group is instead moving forward with more frivolous, expensive litigation that will cost all Floridians – not just FPL customers, but all Florida taxpayers.
After a nearly year-long process that included more than 30 witnesses, countless hours of cross examination by attorneys for all parties, including the Sierra Club, and hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence, FPL and the Office of Public Counsel, which represents all customers, as well as other major customer stakeholder groups, reached a fair settlement that is clearly in the best interest of all of FPL’s customers – and the Florida Public Service Commission unanimously agreed. The settlement supports billions of dollars in planned investments to continue improving FPL’s electrical infrastructure, which is already one of the cleanest and most reliable in the U.S., while still keeping typical customer bills lower than they were in 2006 through 2020. We look forward to demonstrating those benefits yet again.