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FPL wants customers to pay to fight water rules

Florida Power & Light Co.’s request to charge customers for “lobbying” against proposed revisions to the Clean Water Act is outrageous, an environmental coalition said.

FPL is asking the Florida Public Service Commission to allow it to collect $228,500 from its ratepayers for advocacy against the proposed water rules. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are in the midst of a rulemaking process that would more clearly define streams, wetlands and other bodies of water.

“Florida Power & Light has the audacity to ask the Public Service Commission to use customer’s money to weaken clean water protections,” said Susan Glickman, Florida Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

The PSC is expected to hear Juno Beach-based FPL’s request Wednesday. A vote is scheduled in late November.

FPL spokeswoman Sarah Gatewood said advocating a position with the EPA is not considered lobbying. Laws specify that customer dollars cannot be used to pay for lobbying.

“We are not attempting to influence lawmakers or legislation. We are getting involved in the rule-making process with one of our regulators to protect our customers’ interests and prevent what could be extremely costly and unnecessary requirements,” Gatewood said.

The company’s analysis of four of its plants — Martin, Manatee, Sanford and Turkey Point — found that costs to retrofit the plants’ cooling ponds to comply with the proposed new standards could be $25 million or more per facility.