FPL fracking bill dies in Florida House committee

Dive Brief:

  • Legislation that would have allowed Florida Power & Light to resume charging electric customers for out of state gas production appears to have failed in this legislative session.
  • Tampa Bay Times reports House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R) referred the legislation to a committee with no further meetings scheduled, and has indicated he won't support a current Senate version either.
  • Last year, the state's Supreme Court forced the utility to stop collecting on that investment, ruling it was outside the company's mission.

Dive Insight:

Despite what appears to be widespread support for the measure, FPL's fracking proposal, Senate Bill 1238, appears to be dead in this session of Florida's legislature.

Tampa Bay Times reports Democrats and Republicans in both chambers supported the bill, as did Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (the paper also noted that Putnam has accepted almost $600,000 in contributions from the utility in the last 18 months).

But Speaker Corcoran (R) appears to have torpedoed the measure by referring the House version of the bill to a committee that is no longer meeting. He emailed a statement to the Times saying “after thorough vetting and discussion, we just had too many reservations about the issue and the potential consequences. ... In addition, the notion that Florida ratepayers would pay for out-of-state energy production was not in the best interests of the people of Florida.”

Three years ago, the Florida Public Service Commission allowed the utility to invest $191 million in a joint venture with PetroQuest Energy to drill for gas in Oklahoma's Woodford Shale region in an effort to reduce volatility and lock in low prices at the wellhead. Later, regulators allowed the utility to boost that investment up to $500 million a year in a bid to lock in low gas prices and keep rates stable. 

But the investments started out as money-losers, reducing the lifetime benefit back to ratepayers. Challenged, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 6-1 last year that the PSC overstepped its authority in allowing the gas investments. SB 1238 would authorize the utility to resume charging for the gas investments, but Corcoran's opposition means it won't see a vote in the House.

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Filed Under: Generation
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