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Sierra Club takes FPL rate hike to Supreme Court

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The Sierra Club wants the state Supreme Court to block a decision by regulators to approve $811 million in base-rate increases for Florida Power & Light.

The Sierra Club, which filed a notice of the Supreme Court challenge Tuesday, argues FPL never presented evidence that it adequately considered other options, such as solar energy or energy efficiency, to plans to build new natural-gas power plants.

Also, the Sierra Club contends the Florida Public Service Commission failed in oversight.

"The PSC is supposed to make sure our energy sources are safe, reasonable and reliable," Sierra Club Florida Chapter Chair Mark Walters said in a prepared statement. "Instead, they've chosen to let FPL leave us vulnerable to price spikes when investments in solar and energy efficiency are proving to be safer and cheaper in states across the country."

In November, the Public Service Commission unanimously approved a settlement agreement that includes $811 million in base-rate increases for customers of FPL --- with $400 million taking effect Jan. 1.

FPL, which initially proposed $1.3 billion in rate increases, negotiated the settlement with representatives of consumers and two business groups.

The senior-advocacy group AARP and the Sierra Club objected.

The agreement also calls for a $211 million increase in January 2018 and a $200 million increase in mid-2019 when a new Okeechobee County power plant starts operating.