Rep. Kathy Castor is urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to conduct a "thorough review" of Tampa Electric Co.'s plan to convert part of Big Bend Power Station to natural gas.

In a letter to the governor Friday, Castor asked DeSantis and the cabinet, who have the power to give final approval for the plans, to ensure that the plant is able to reliably meet the state's energy needs and "serve and protect the broad interests of the public" as required under Florida law.

"Citizens of our great state are looking to you for leadership at a critical time in the state's history at a time when the impacts and the costs of the climate crisis are escalating rapidly," Castor wrote.

Tampa Electric is seeking approval for its plans to convert one of its coal-fired units at Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach to natural gas and retire a second unit, where five workers died in an accident in 2017.

Castor echoed assertions environmental groups have made that the utility should have to go through a “need determination,” a more stringent type of review than it has undergone.

Tampa Electric argued at its hearing before an administrative law judge earlier this year that a need determination only applies to new power plants, whereas its plans modify an existing plant.

To go forward with the plan as is, Castor said, "would contribute to the climate crisis by emitting tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases that cause billions of dollars in damages, to individuals and property alike."

DeSantis and the cabinet, she said, "should go beyond a strict legal analysis in deciding to review the project prior to certification because any decision (Tampa Electric) makes or is allowed to make will be with us for decades."

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