Cheap natural gas and increased efficiencies are driving down costs for customers of Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL). State regulators have approved a rate cut to start next month along with the commissioning of FPL’s Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center.

It will be company’s fourth rate decrease in the last 16 months. Residential bills for 1,000 kWh of usage have fallen by more than 15% since 2006, it said.

“Our long-term strategy of investing in high-efficiency natural gas generation has enabled FPL to reduce its use of foreign oil by more than 99% since 2001 while at the same time saving our customers more than $8 billion on fuel and preventing more than 95 million tons of carbon emissions,” said FPL CEO Eric Silagy. “These smart, long-term investments continue to pay off for customers and our state by helping us keep FPL rates well below the national average, which in turn, helps Florida stay competitive in today’s global economy.”

FPL’s typical 1,000-kWh bill is about 30% lower than the national average, the company said, adding that its typical bill continues to consistently be the lowest among reporting utilities in Florida.

The FPL Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center is expected to enter service on April 1, bringing the benefits of high-efficiency natural gas generation to customers on budget and about two months ahead of schedule. The plant is designed to generate enough electricity to power about 260,000 homes and businesses using 35% less fuel than the site’s previous plant.

Separately, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently approved certificates for Florida Southeast Connection LLC [CP14-554], Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. LLC (Transco) for its Hillabee Expansion [CP15-16] and Sabal Trail Transmission LLC [CP15-17] (see Daily GPI, Feb. 3).

Sabal Trail is a project of FPL parent NextEra Energy Inc. and Spectra Energy Corp. Southeast Connection would deliver gas to FPL’s Martin Clean Energy Center near Indiantown, FL. The Florida Southeast and Sabal Trail projects are a response to a December 2012 request for proposals from FPL for upstream capacity from Transco’s Station 85 to Central Florida (see Daily GPI, Dec. 11, 2012).

A little more than a year ago, FPL won regulatory approval to invest ratepayer funds in upstream natural gas exploration and production in Oklahoma (see Daily GPI, Dec. 19, 2014).