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Weekly Legislative Update from March 8, 2019

Energy

SB 796 – Relating to Public Utility Storm Protection Plans

On Wednesday, March 6, SB 796 by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) was heard in the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee and was voted favorably with 10 yeas and 0 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.

This bill aims to harden Florida’s utilities grid against tropical storm and hurricane damage with proposed under-grounding of electric infrastructure. The bill would require public utility companies (Florida Power and Light, Duke Energy Florida, Gulf Power Company, Tampa Electric Company, and the Florida Public Utilities Corporation) to submit a transmission and distribution storm protection plan to the Public Services Commission, with updates required at least every three years. Data collected after Hurricane Irma showed that underground lines suffered minimal outages during storms. To maintain reasonable electric rates, public utilities may not underground more than 4% of distribution lines per year.

SB 796 will now move to the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee.

AIF supports actively seeking ways to harden infrastructure during hurricanes and tropical storms to ensure that power is restored more quickly following interruptions in service.