Florida approves Duke’s solar plan despite SEIA’s objections

The Sunshine State’s Public Service Commission (FLAPSC) approved Duke Energy Florida’s plan to build 175 MW of utility-scale solar per year for the next four years in exchange for the utility’s agreement to halt construction of a nuclear plant in Levy County.

The settlement also limits DEF’s annual base-rate increases to between 1% and 3% from 2019 to 2021, and the utility can’t ask for additional base rate increases until at least 2021. It would also be able to ask the FLAPSC for rate increases to recover the costs of building those utility-scale solar plants starting in 2019.

The agreement comes in the face of strong opposition of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which testified against the agreement at the final hearing yesterday. The association argued the current plan would actually raise consumer costs instead of lower them.

“We appreciate Duke Energy Florida’s plans to add more solar into their portfolio, but their approach will cost customers more,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president for state affairs. “Rather than allow Duke to avoid competition and build its own solar projects at a rate above today’s market prices, the PSC should require Duke to conduct a competitive procurement process for solar capacity and to acquire a portion of projects from independent developers. A competitive procurement process ensures consumers can adopt solar at the lowest cost possible.”