March 17, 2017

Miami Mayor Regalado to Florida Legislature: Don't let utilities circumvent local regulations

Tomas RegaladoMiami Mayor Tomas Regalado is urging the Florida Legislature to reject two fast-moving bills to allow Florida Power & Light and other electric utilities to circumvent local government regulations when they build transmission lines through local communities. 

The leadership-backed bills, SB 1048 and HB 1055, were each given swift and unanimous approval this week in their first committees with no debate.

The bills are being pushed by FPL to overturn a Florida Third District Court of Appeal ruling that rejected a decision by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet, sitting as the Power Plant Siting Board, to allow the company to string two massive transmission lines that will cut through some of Miami-Dade County’s most affluent cities and fragile wetlands.

 "The City of Miami and other local governments have joined in the charge to ensure that FPL complies with the land use regulations enacted to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents," Regalado said in a statement. "If passed, Senate Bill 1048 and House Bill 1055 will allow electric utility companies throughout Florida to avoid and ignore essential regulations."  Download Mayor_Regalado_s_Letter_to_FL_House_and_Senate_Opposing_SB_1048_and_HB_1...

Sponsors of the bill, Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, and Rep. Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola, argue that the courts changed 40 years of Florida law with their ruling and the bill simply restores the law.

But Regalado countered that in his letter to members of the House and Senate, saying that the purpose of local land use law is to "ensure the health, safety and welfare of our residents."

"The various court decisions were not simply interpretations of the law, but they ensured that utility companies would have to comply with these local land use regulations so that our Florida residents are not adversely affected,'' he wrote. 

Regalado said, if passed, the legislation proposes to "unravel every holding of the Third District Court of Appeal's decision...and change the current state of the law as it relates to right of way corridors, variances for local land use regulations, and give the Florida Public Service Commission the exclusive authority to order utilities to bury transmission lines." 

No lobbyists for the the City of Miami or any other city have spoken up against the bills at the two committee hearings in which they were passed.