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The Regulators Forum - States to Feds: Don't tread on Me

How far do states rights go in transmission planning?
Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 2003

purchased from non-utility generators.

Florida has established a process to quickly and efficiently respond to requests to build additional electric generation. Florida's Power Plant Siting Act provides clear timelines and decision processes for utilities seeking to build new power plants. The Florida commission is given 150 days in which to determine whether there is a need for any new power plant with a steam cycle greater than 75 MW. In making its decision, the Florida commission must consider the need for reliability and integrity of the electric system, the need for electricity at a reasonable cost and whether the proposed plant is the most cost-effective alternative available. Once the commission issues a certificate of need, other state agencies have a defined time for performing the environmental siting portion of the process. The governor and cabinet, acting as the siting board, have the final authority.

F: What are you doing to encourage infrastructure investment?

LAJ: The Florida commission is charged with ensuring an adequate and reliable supply of electrical energy to meet the needs of Florida's citizens. We carry out this responsibility by conducting annual reviews through a 10-year site plan process. As part of this process, the commission reviews all electric utilities that own transmission and generation facilities in Florida. Our review focuses on the existing system and the planned upgrades for the next 10 years. If the Florida PSC determines that there is an inadequacy in the system, we have the statutory authority to require the necessary system improvements.

With regard to generation facilities, according to information contained in the most recent 10-year site plans, Florida's utilities are planning to add approximately 5,725 MW of generating capacity by the year 2005. Most, if not all of this, is already under construction. Over the next 10 years, through 2012, the state should add approximately 16,000 MW of generation. Based on this information, Florida's generation supply plans are adequate.

Another important aspect of reliability relates to transmission infrastructure. Peninsular Florida has roughly 8,877-circuit miles of high-voltage, 115-kilovolt and higher, transmission lines. Over the past five years, Florida's investor-owned utilities have added approximately 500 circuit miles of transmission lines 115 kV and higher, and have spent approximately $1 billion to maintain and upgrade their transmission systems. According to the 2003 FRCC Load and Resource Plan, peninsular utilities are planning to add approximately 500 circuit miles of high voltage transmission lines, 230 kV and greater, over the next 10 years. Just this year, the commission approved the need for a major transmission line in Collier and Lee Counties.

F: What is the future of electric and gas competition in Florida?

LAJ: In 2000, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in a case involving Duke Energy of North America that under existing Florida law, independent power producers with steam cycles greater than 75 MW could not become applicants for a need certificate under our power plant siting statutes, unless the plant they were constructing had a contract with a franchised utility. Thus, the Duke decision severely restricts the construction of pure merchant generation, except for combustion turbine