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Rick Scott signs bill on power transmission lines

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed a bill dealing with the approval of electric transmission lines, an issue that stemmed from a legal battle between Florida Power & Light and local governments in Miami-Dade County.

The bill (HB 405) was one of 30 that Scott’s office announced Monday night that he had signed.

During the Legislative Session that ended March 11, the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved the transmission-line bill, which was sponsored by Republicans Rep. Jayer Williamson of Pace, Rep. Bobby Payne of Palatka, and Sen. Tom Lee of Thonotosassa.

The bill was rooted in a 2016 ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in a dispute involving a proposed FPL project that would add two nuclear reactors at the utility’s Turkey Point complex in Miami-Dade.

Scott and the state Cabinet approved the project in 2014 in their role as a state power-plant siting board. But the appeals court overturned that decision, with a key part of the ruling saying Scott and Cabinet members erroneously determined they could not require underground transmission lines as a condition of the project approval.

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Lee said last month on the Senate floor that the bill would make changes that would effectively revert to an approval process that had been in place for decades before the court ruling. He said the changes are needed to make sure that transmission lines, which are crucial to power-plant projects, can be sited.

But Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat who opposed the bill, said the appeals court sided with local governments on issues related to land use and local regulations.

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