In a victory for the state's largest utility, Florida Power & Light, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet granted it permission to build two nuclear generators and 88 miles of transmission lines in Miami-Dade County.
Local governments that challenged the placement of the 80- to 150-foot transmission towers vowed to sue the state.
"This entire process has been so one-sided in favor of FPL that we look forward to getting this into the court system where justice will be served," said Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez after the meeting.
Under the proposal, FPL will build two new 1,100-megawatt nuclear generators, known as Turkey Point 6 and 7, at a cost of $24 billion. The project would come online in 2028 and, over its 40-year life, is projected to save customers $64 billion in fossil fuel costs.
Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, sitting as the Power Plant Siting Board, unanimously approved FPL's request at the recommendation of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The next step for FPL is to seek approval from the Public Service Commission to start charging customers to build the lines.
Since 2010, FPL has contributed nearly $3 million to the campaigns of the governor, the Cabinet and the Florida Republican Party. In the past 18 months, FPL has contributed $550,000 to Scott's campaign alone and the Republican Party of Florida has sent more than $500,000 of the money it has collected to each of their campaigns, making impossible to trace how much came from FPL.
Crist's neighborly approach
Charlie Crist, who previously has relied almost entirely on massive TV campaigns to win his elections, is intent on showing he's the one leading a people-powered operation as he seeks to reclaim the Governor's Office as a Democrat. His campaign showed some muscle Monday night as it organized what it said were more than 50 house parties across the state. "I don't care how much he spends," Crist, appearing at a party in St. Petersburg and speaking to groups across the state, said of Gov. Rick Scott. "People power is much better than money power."
He urged people to donate $1 to his campaign online, and noted that he already has raised more than $10 million, which he said was more than any Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate had ever raised at this point. At least 40 people, mostly women, showed up for the house party in the Old Northeast neighborhood of St. Petersburg hosted by Dona Stewart, 47, a geographer and registered independent.
Survey says it's tight
Rick Scott has closed the gap with Democrat Charlie Crist in a new statewide survey from a business interest showing the two candidates are virtually tied, 43-44 percent.
Then again, WFLA released its latest poll from SurveyUSA showing Crist with a 44-41 percent lead, the same spread as two weeks ago. Prior to that, it found Crist with a 46-41 percent lead. Scott has led Crist in one clear category, TV advertising, where the governor has spent at least $8 million to the former governor's 0 since March.
Adam Smith and Marc Caputo contributed.