FPL Drilling Investments Face Supreme Court Fight

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A new plan that would allow Florida Power & Light to invest ratepayer money for natural-gas drilling projects may be facing a Supreme court fight.

The Florida Industrial Power Users Group filed a notice Wednesday indicating it will appeal a decision by state regulators that cleared the way for the FPL gas-investment program.

The power-users group and the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, fought the FPL program, arguing in part that it would shift financial risks to ratepayers while helping the utility’s shareholders.

But the state Public Service Commission in June agreed to allow FPL to invest up to $500 million a year without having to get regulatory approvals for each natural-gas production project.

The Public Service Commission decision came after it earlier approved an FPL plan to invest in a project to drill for natural gas in Oklahoma — an approval that opponents also have challenged at the Florida Supreme Court.

FPL relies heavily on natural gas to fuel its power plants.

In proposing the new program, it said it needed the ability to make decisions quickly about whether to invest in additional production projects.

The Florida Industrial Power Users Group’s notice, filed with the Public Service Commission, does not detail the arguments it will make at the Supreme Court.

(The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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