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Lawmakers want PSC to decide on underground lines

(Paul Courson/CNN)

Two Republican lawmakers have revived a proposal that would make clear the Florida Public Service Commission has “exclusive jurisdiction” to decide whether underground transmission lines are required for power-plant projects.

Rep. Jayer Williamson, R-Pace, filed the House version of the proposal (HB 405) on Monday, nearly two weeks after Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, filed an identical Senate bill (SB 494).

The proposal stems, at least in part, from a 2016 decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in a dispute between Florida Power & Light and local governments about transmission-line issues related to a nuclear-power project in Miami-Dade County.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet, acting as the state's power-plant siting board, approved the project in 2014.

But the 3rd District Court of Appeal sided with local governments and overturned the decision by Scott and the Cabinet.

A key part of the ruling said Scott and Cabinet members erroneously determined they could not require underground transmission lines as a condition of the project approval.

FPL argued that the Public Service Commission --- not Scott and the Cabinet --- had authority over issues involving installation of underground lines.

The bills, filed for the 2018 session, would ensure the Public Service Commission makes such decisions.

The Senate passed a version of the bill during the 2017 session, but the measure did not come up for a vote in the House.