The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has ruled that Florida Power and Light Co. (FP&L) is protected by the state action immunity doctrine from liability to cogenerators (QFs) for alleged antitrust violations. The QFs had claimed that FP&L violated federal antitrust laws when it refused to wheel their power to offsite end users. The court also ruled that FP&L was protected against additional antitrust claims arising for opposing a QF proposal before the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to construct a separate transmission line to serve the offsite customers.
The dispute centered around a QF built into a new governmental center in downtown Miami by Metropolitan Dade County and TEC Cogeneration, Inc., in partnership with RRD Corp. According to the court, "fingers began to point" when the 27-megawatt (Mw) project proved unprofitable, in part as a result of low avoided-cost rates for mandated purchases by FP&L and neighboring utilities. To minimize its losses, the QF sought to force FP&L to wheel 17 Mw of excess capacity from the project to the Jackson Memorial Hospital/Civic Center. FP&L refused, claiming that the request violated the state's "self-service wheeling" rules. FP&L also opposed an alternative plan by the Dade County and the QF to build a separate line between the QF and the complex.