Energy Fairness Executive Director Paul Griffin released the following statement following final passage of CS/CS/CS SB 796 by Representative Randy Fine and Senator Joe Gruters, which will increase the resilience of the state’s electric infrastructure to severe weather events.
“Grid resiliency is critically important to protect access to affordable and reliable power for families and businesses in the Sunshine State. Today, the Florida Legislature passed major bipartisan legislation to protect Floridians’ power supply and their pocketbooks.
“Hurricane Irma caused over $50 billion in damage in 2017 and knocked out power to nearly two-thirds of the state. These are real costs that weaken Florida’s economy and hurt families.
“By making prudent investments to weather storms, families and businesses will benefit in the long-run thanks to faster power restoration times after hurricanes.
“Florida consumers pay rates at or below the national average. Nothing in this bill will change that. This bill enhances consumer protections and oversight by the PSC and preserves their ability to hold utilities accountable.
“Investments in storm hardening work, and Florida will now be better prepared to recover after the next major storm.”
ABOUT SB 796:
- Lengthens utility storm hardening plans from 3 years to 10.
- Requires PSC approval of storm protection costs annually – currently, they are part of base rates, which are reviewed every four years.
- The PSC noted marked improvement in restoration times due to hardening – Hurricane Irma caused twice as many power outages as Hurricane Wilma, but power was restored twice as quickly after Irma.
- Requires storm hardening plans to focus on areas of greatest need, allowing all communities to benefit, regardless of income.
- Requires storm hardening measures to be appropriate for each area. This bill does notmean every power line will be undergrounded.
Energy Fairness is a national non-profit energy policy organization dedicated to ensuring an affordable and reliable supply of power for consumers.