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“State regulators speedily approved underground utility project rules for Florida Power & Light Co. and other electric utilities on Oct. 3. But not so fast, says the Florida Office of Public Counsel, which filed a petition Friday requesting a public hearing on the rules. A new law signed by Gov. DeSantis in July allows the state utilities to recover expenses for burying power lines. The rules would oversee a multi-decade statewide project to bury neighborhood power lines underground.

The cost to FPL and other electric utility customers in the state is unknown.

But Public Counsel J.R. Kelly said his office wants to make sure there’s no ‘double recovery’of expenses for underground projects through both a special recovery process created by the law and base rates. He also wants to make sure the money utilities spend on burying power lines is ‘prudent and reasonable.’

The consumer watchdog says in the petition that proposed rules approved by the Florida Public Service Commission on Oct. 3 go further than the new state law allows, and asks the rules be revised.

‘These rules … exceed the statutory authority granted by the Legislature …or are otherwise contrary to the state’s interests,’the Office of Public Counsel says in its petition.

…Deputy Public Counsel Charles Rehwinkel told commissioners it’s important they get as much detail as possible from the utilities upfront about their undergrounding plans and costs.

‘There’s so much money involved that I think the additional effort and cost to get the details is worth it and overrides any customer confusion,’Rehwinkel said.

FPL has 71,000 miles of neighborhood lines in its service territory, which is about half the state, and it has buried about 26,000 or 38 percent. That leaves about 43,000 lines to bury, according to FPL’s CEO.”

— Marcia Heroux Pounds, South Florida Sun Sentinel
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