Sen. Frank Artiles put on a brown jacket with "NextEra" emblazoned on the back and waved the green flag for the unofficial start to the Friday night truck race at this year's Daytona 500 weekend.
Within minutes, a dramatic crash became the highlight of the season-opening event sponsored by NextEra, the parent company to Florida Power & Light.
Artiles, the chairman of the Florida Senate's Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee, also used the event to conduct a fundraiser, which he says raised him more than $10,000. Now, Artiles, a Republican from south Miami-Dade County is returning a favor to Florida's largest utility.
In the first meeting of his energy committee since the start of the Legislature's annual session, Artiles has scheduled two recently filed bills sought by FPL that will address two court rulings that dealt significant blows to the company.
One bill, SB 1238, by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, would allow utilities to charge customers for exploratory natural gas fracking in other states, overturning a Florida Supreme Court ruling against FPL last year.
Another bill, SB 1048, by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, would revise state law after the Third District Court of Appeal ruling that found Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet — acting as the state siting board overseeing power plants — failed to consider the city of Miami's development rules when it signed off on allowing FPL to string 88 miles of line atop towers 80 to 150 feet high.
The legislation would unravel the court decision and revise existing law relating to rights of way corridors, allow new variances for local land use regulations, and give the Public Service Commission the exclusive authority to order utilities to bury utility lines, said Victoria Mendez, general counsel for the city of Miami, which filed the lawsuit. Story here.