Trying to undo a 2016 court ruling in a case involving Florida Power & Light, the state Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that deals with approval of electric transmission lines.
The 34-4 vote by the Senate sends the bill (HB 405) to Gov. Rick Scott. The House voted 105-2 to approve the measure last month.
The issue stems from a 2016 ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in a dispute involving local governments in Miami-Dade County and FPL about a proposed project that would add two nuclear reactors at the utility’s Turkey Point complex.
Scott and the state Cabinet approved the project in 2014 in their role as a state power-plant siting board.
But the appeals court overturned that decision, with a key part of the ruling saying Scott and Cabinet members erroneously determined they could not require underground transmission lines as a condition of the project approval.
Lee said the bill approved Wednesday would make changes that would effectively revert to an approval process that had been in place for decades before the court ruling.
He said the changes are needed to make sure that transmission lines, which are crucial to power-plant projects, can be sited.
“Over the 45 years since 1973, every transmission line in this state has been sited and permitted under the process that we are reaffirming here in this legislation,” he said.
But Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, said the appeals court sided with local governments on issues related to land use and local regulations and urged senators to oppose the bill.
Rodriguez, Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, cast the dissenting votes.