The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) today held a public hearing on its proposed storm protection rules at the request of the Office of Public Counsel (OPC). Approved by the Commission on October 3, the proposed rules require utilities to create ten-year storm protection plans to reduce restoration costs and outage times associated with extreme weather events.
After hearing from OPC and others, the Commission concluded the rules as proposed would accurately and effectively implement storm protection legislation that became law earlier this year. Commissioners agreed that the public’s substantial interests were protected in the rulemaking proceeding.
“The PSC determined that the storm protection rules will protect Florida’s consumers, including those most vulnerable,” said PSC Chairman Art Graham. “OPC had ample opportunity to participate in this process, which they did, and our rules will do what the Legislature intended—protect utility customers’ interests.”
Under the new rules, Florida’s investor owned utilities (IOUs) must submit their storm protection plans to the PSC for review and approval. The PSC is also required to provide an annual report on the status of the IOUs’ storm protection activities to the Governor and the Legislature.
Florida’s IOUs already have storm hardening programs financed through a utility’s base rate. The proposed rules establish a separate cost recovery mechanism for storm protection activities, as required in the new storm protection law. IOUs may seek Commission approval to recover these costs annually, similar to their request for fuel cost recovery.
In reviewing a utility’s storm protection plan, the rules require the PSC to consider four criteria:
- Reduction in restoration costs and outage times;
- Feasibility, reasonableness, or practicality of storm protection in certain service territory areas;
- Estimated costs and benefits to the utility and its customers; and
- Estimated annual rate impact during the first three years.
Proposed rules were required by October 31, 2019, as outlined in the storm protection plan cost recovery bill (SB 796) passed by the 2019 Florida Legislature and signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis.
After 14 days the rules will be filed with the Department of State for adoption.
For additional information, visit floridapsc.com.
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