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House renewable energy bill remains in limbo

Does the House have the votes to pass a scaled-back renewable energy bill? That is the question overshadowing a decision Tuesday by House leaders to take up, then postpone, a vote on the bill, HB 7229.

The House adopted an amendment to lower the cost to customers of its renewable energy bill -- from a potential $772 million over three years to $386 million. But opponents warned that the timing is bad for a $386 million potential rate increase on Floridia electric bills for an average rate increase of  $1 a month.  

After a debate that spanned the political spectrum -- as both Republicans and Democrats spoke up in favor and against it -- House leaders postponed a final vote.

The measure allows the state's four largest utilities to bypass the rate-setting process and raise rates to pay for broad-scale development for renewable energy, particularly solar power. The power companies would have to ask the Public Service Commission for approval to build renewable energy power plants without having to prove they need it, without using the lowest cost energy sources, and if approved they can pass the costs on to customers as an addition to their base rate.