Florida Court Shoots Down Merchant Plant Appeal
Merchant power plant developers attempting to get a foot in the
door in Florida were thrown out again by the state Supreme Court.
The court rejected Duke Energy's motion for rehearing of a decision
handed down this spring that said the state's public service
commission had no authority to approve a 514 MW merchant plant Duke
planned to build in New Smyrna Beach.
The PSC in March 1999 approved Duke's petition to build the
plant. But Florida Power & Light challenged the PSC ruling
before the court, which concluded that state laws do not allow
power plants whose output is not committed to retail customers.
The merchant plants, which are opposed by FPL and other local
monopoly utilities, would sell power into the wholesale market and
to other utilities in Florida. The court ruling effectively blocked
a string of about 25 merchant power projects being planned by a
number of companies, including Dynegy, Panda and Calpine Corp.
"While we were disappointed in the ruling, we are encouraged by
the energy study commission that Gov. [Jeb] Bush has put in place,"
said Duke Energy spokesman Rick Rhodes.
The governor issued a mandate earlier this year to set up the
Energy 2020 Study Commission to examine the state's future energy
needs. At its first meeting recently, the commission decided to
bring an interim report in January to the legislature on whether
state laws need to be changed to allow the merchant power plants to
"We're encouraged by the first meeting this week in which they
have agreed to develop interim recommendations that hopefully will
go before next year's legislature," said Rhodes. "[The statute has
to change] to allow combined cycle facilities with greater than 75
MW steam loads to be developed. I think [the legislature will
change the statute]." He noted that the state of Florida will need
another 7,000 to 8,000 MW of new base load generation by 2007.
©Copyright 2000 Intelligence Press, Inc. All rights
reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or
redistributed in whole or in part without prior written consent of
Intelligence Press, Inc.