TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Pointing to the “extraordinary size of the program,” the state Office of Public Counsel is asking regulators to hold a detailed hearing about a Florida Power & Light proposal that includes adding 20 solar-power plants.
The Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, filed a request Tuesday for the Public Service Commission to hold a hearing on FPL’s “SolarTogether” plan.
The request said commission staff members are slated to make a recommendation July 25 about FPL’s plan but that a full administrative hearing should be held.
The request pointed to the size of the proposed program and complex engineering and financial issues and said issues raised “have generated concern and interest from numerous persons and entities across Florida. Finally, approval of the program in the form proposed in the (FPL) petition has the potential to set new precedent for the regulatory oversight of electric utilities in the state.”
FPL, which has moved quickly in recent years to expand its use of solar energy, filed a petition March 13 seeking approval of the program from the Public Service Commission.
The proposal, at least initially, seeks to build 20 solar plants that would generate 1,490 megawatts of electricity, with a projected cost of $1.79 billion, according to the petition.
The filing said FPL projects long-term savings of $139 million because the increased use of solar would allow it to avoid costs related to natural-gas or other types of power plants.
Customers would be able to voluntarily participate in SolarTogether, paying a charge each month and receiving credits for savings produced by the program.
“The company has developed FPL SolarTogether as a cost-effective opportunity for customers to directly support the expansion of solar power without the need to install solar on their rooftop,” the filing said. “Through FPL SolarTogether, customers will have the option to subscribe to kilowatts of solar capacity from dedicated cost-effective 74.5-megawatt solar power plants built for this program. Participating customers’ monthly bills will include the cost of their subscribed capacity and credits that reflect the system savings generated by their subscribed capacity.”