The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) on Thursday unanimously approved Florida Power & Light Co.'s (FPL) contracts for a planned 600-mile pipeline system to bring more natural gas into the state.

The $3.5 billion pipeline, which would be the third to serve Florida, is to be built by Sabal Trail Transmission LLC, a joint venture of Spectra Energy Corp. and NextEra Energy Inc. (see Daily GPIJuly 29). Sabal would join Florida Gas Transmission Co. LLC and Gulfstream Natural Gas System LLC in serving the Sunshine State.

"The commission had already determined that additional gas capacity was necessary to meet the growing electricity needs of Floridians," said PSC Chairman Ronald A. Brise. "Today's approval of FPL's investment in natural gas infrastructure will benefit all Floridians by securing the state's energy sector."

Expected to be in service by mid-2017, the pipeline will run from southwest Alabama, through Georgia and down to Central and South Florida.

The pipeline, when completed, will have the capacity to transport more than 1 Bcf/d of gas to serve local distribution companies, industrial users and natural gas-fired power generators. According to the Energy Information Administration, Florida generates 62% of its power from 1.1 Tcf of natural gas.

FPL has entered into long-term natural gas transportation contracts with Sabal and Florida Southeast Connection, which are projected to save up to $450 million, compared to other options, over the term of the contracts. The PSC also decided today that it will review the prudence of the actual transportation costs during its annual cost recovery clause hearings.