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MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) — Senior advocacy group AARP filed a brief opposing state regulators’ approval of a plan for Florida Power & Light to invest in drilling for gas in Oklahoma.

AARP filed the friend-of-the-court brief in the Florida Supreme Court in a challenge filed by the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers, and other opponents of the drilling plan.

The challenge, in part, contends that the state Public Service Commission did not have the legal authority to approve FPL’s plan to pass along costs for the drilling investment to ratepayers.

In a brief filed Thursday, AARP contended that regulators violated state law and the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“The (Public Service Commission) order should be reversed because approval of the cost shifting of speculative investments to ratepayers departs significantly from fundamental rate-making principles,” AARP attorneys wrote in the brief. “Indeed, there is no assurance that the investment will ever produce any natural gas, let alone produce a net cost savings for ratepayers.”

The brief was filed on the same day that the Public Service Commission approved a proposal that could lead to additional investments by FPL in drilling projects.

Under the decision, FPL will not have to get case-by-case regulatory approvals for such investments. With Florida heavily reliant on natural gas to fuel power plants, FPL argues that the investments in drilling projects ultimately will save money for customers.

The Public Service Commission and FPL dispute the legal arguments raised by opponents.

The Supreme Court has not scheduled oral arguments in the case, according to an online docket.

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


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