Friday, December 06, 2013

FPL power line siting controversy inches its way to my house and a decision to sell … by gimleteye

Yesterday FPL got what it wants from a Florida administrative law judge: support edging the company towards its goal of providing high intensity power lines up the US 1 Corridor. It is going to be a bad day for a lot of people if and when appeals are exhausted … As a side-note, it is interesting that the GOP majority legislature consistently supports local control (ie. county commission decision-making) unless big utilities or polluters are involved. Then, the gold standard for elected, pro-business "free thinkers" is pre-emption: ie. the state decides.

FPL could have written the opinion (which was not required, since utility lobbyists wrote the siting laws). If you had a dollar every time the Florida legislature voted in favor of what polluters in Florida want, you could buy a few Andy Warhol paintings of Jackie O at Art Basel.

An excerpt from the more-than-300-page Order including Judge Alexander's ultimate conclusions on some of the relevant issues:

(From Findings of Fact)

f. Summary
490. Because of significant constructability issues and land use constraints within the PAC and in light of the relative costs for placement of the Davis-Miami transmission line within the two eastern corridors proper for certification, the FPL East Preferred Corridor represents the corridor which, on balance, has the least adverse impacts, including costs, considering the criteria in section 403.509(3).

(From Conclusions of Law)

i. Eastern Transmission Lines
841. The FPL East Preferred Corridor and PAC are corridors proper for certification under section 403.503(11).

842. Based upon the accepted evidence presented at the hearing, the proposed eastern transmission lines in the FPL East Preferred Corridor or the PAC meet the criteria for certification set forth in section 403.509(3).

843. Having determined that both the FPL East Preferred Corridor and the PAC are proper for certification under section 403.503(11), and meet the criteria for certification under section 403.509(3), the corridor with the "least adverse impact" considering the criteria in section 403.509(3), including costs, should be certified. § 403.509(4), Fla. Stat. Of the two eastern corridors proper for certification, it is concluded that the FPL East Preferred Corridor has the least adverse impact considering the criteria of section 403.509(3), including costs.

b. Undergrounding (Eastern Transmission Line)
848. As discussed above, the municipalities cannot require FPL to underground the proposed Davis-Miami 230-kV transmission line based upon application of their local comprehensive plans or LDRs or their independent home rule authority. The Legislature has explicitly preempted these local governments' regulatory authority over the transmission line pursuant to chapter 163 and their independent home rule authority in favor of the PSC and the Siting Board. Permitting the County and municipalities to require FPL to underground its proposed transmission line at the cost of FPL and its customers would violate the Florida Supreme Court's long-standing prohibition on such actions. See Seminole County, 579 So. 2d at 107-08 (rejecting a charter county and municipality's attempts to require undergrounding at the utility's cost, reasoning that if the utility "has to expend large sums of money in converting its overhead power lines to underground, these expenditures [would] necessarily be reflected in the rates of its customers" and thus would "clearly run contrary to the legislative intent that the [PSC] have regulatory authority over this subject”).

849. The PSC has consistently relied upon the Florida Supreme Court guidance on this point. See, e.g., In re: Petition by City of Parker, in which the PSC declared that its jurisdiction preempted a municipality's local land use regulations, and recognized the principle enunciated in Seminole County that "the city and county are the cost causers in this case, and their position contravenes our policy that cost causers pay the direct costs of undergrounding."

850. Undergrounding of the Davis-Miami 230 kV transmission line would impose far greater costs on FPL and its ratepayers throughout Florida than the planned overhead construction of the line. Therefore, consistent with the PSC's policy, the cost causers in this case – the County and municipalities – should be responsible for any costs associated with under grounding the transmission line, not FPL and its ratepayers. Only the PSC can decide this issue. See Seminole County, 579 So. 2d at 107-108.

851. Finally, the incremental costs of under grounding transmission lines, where overhead transmission lines are feasible but undergrounding has been requested for aesthetic reasons, is typically absorbed by the requesting entity. See § 366.03 Fla. Stat. ("No public utility shall make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any person or locality, or subject the same to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect."); Seminole County, 579 So. 2d at 108 ("Permitting cities or counties to unilaterally mandate the conversion of overhead lines to underground would clearly run contrary to the legislative intent that the [PSC] have regulatory authority over this subject."). No local government in this proceeding has agreed to undertake this financial responsibility.

6. Consistency with Applicable Local Government Comprehensive Plans and LDRs (section 403.509(3)(c))
i. Transmission Lines
866. For the reasons set forth above, there are no local government comprehensive plans and LDRs applicable to the transmission lines, other than those with which FPL may have agreed to comply in the Conditions of Certification.

11. Corridor with Least Adverse Impacts, Including Costs
(section 403.509(4))
i. Eastern Transmission Lines
879. For the reasons set forth above, FPL has provided reasonable assurances that the location, construction, operation, and maintenance of the eastern transmission lines within the FPL East Preferred Corridor constitutes the eastern corridor with the least adverse impacts, including costs, considering the factors set forth in section 403.509(3)(e).

(From Recommendations)

RECOMMENDED that the Siting Board certify one of the corridors proper for certification for the eastern transmission lines and the western transmission lines. It is further RECOMMENDED that the Siting Board certify the following transmission line corridors pursuant to section 403.509: East Preferred Corridor; West Consensus Corridor/MDLPA No. 2; and West Preferred Corridor as a back-up if an adequate right-of- way within the West Consensus Corridor/MDLPA No. 2 cannot be secured in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost.


Anonymous said...

I demand electrical power but I don't want power lines anywhere near my expensive home. LOL!

Anonymous said...

I demand ethical behavior by elected officials and burying power lines so tbe healtb and property values of citizens are not ruined by greed and corruption. How about that?!

Anonymous said...

It's just like dismantling the DCF then taking local control away from Wetland regulations because it doesn't fit the Tea Party sprawl theme.

The shame of it all is that the power they want to move isn't going to be used locally. I'm assuming this is the same plan to bring power lines in to the middle of the Everglades (see first paragraph)!

Tallahassee is a mess when it comes to the people and actually serving them, we don't pay enough in to their campaign coffers or have enough to hire Ron Book et al for every whim we may desire to destroy every inch of land in South Florida.

Comment #1, there's no need for new power lines because the power they'll be carrying isn't the direct power already existing which the capacity is fine right now and in the near future. It's a dog & pony show for profit on the backs of our neighborhoods!

Anonymous said...

Judge Donald Alexander did a disservice to this community. He's never seen a wetlands destruction project that he didn't like. Plus, the system is rigged on the side of the utilities. Here, FPL wrote the damn law!

It is so wrong for Judge Alexander to represent himself as an objective, fair judge with all parties having a fair chance of winning. Maybe he's been doing it too long to even be able to see it.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone demanded Fpl explain its rate base projections under sea level rise scenario planning. Heck, the US military is doing it. Don't you think Fpl has done the same?

Anonymous said...

Undergrounding is far more reliable now. Overhead power lines should ever be near an evacuation route or crossing evacuation routes. Safety issue. Once the lines go down you cannot travel or use the road until they lines and poles are cleared.

Cindy Lerner said...

There is more than one way to skin a cat. I remain confident that these monstrosities will never be built! Just as the proposed 2 new nuclear plants will never be built. One day soon the corporate leaders at Next Era will wake up and realize it is a bad business model to pursue( and for no other reason on their part) and will kill the plan. In the meantime we ( Pinecrest,, Coral Gables and City of Miami ). will tie them up in court for years to come and the transmission lines will never be built along US 1 inless they are undergrounded. Mark my words! Cindy Lerner, mayor

Anonymous said...

The law is the law (unless you're president Obama). If you don't like it, get the legislature to change it.

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