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NEWS RELEASE


06/20/2006 Contact: 850-413-6482

Commission Moves to Strengthen State's Electric System


TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Public Service Commission moved to strengthen rules governing electric utility construction and maintenance Tuesday as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce the state’s vulnerability to hurricanes and tropical storms.

“We need to have standards in place that reflect the realities of today’s storm cycles and their effect on our economy,” Commission Chairman Lisa Edgar said.  “We are committed to developing a more resilient electric system, and this is one more step in that process.”

Changes approved by the Commission on Tuesday include:

·       Directing the state’s electric utilities to establish guidelines and procedures for adopting more stringent construction standards for overhead and underground electric transmission and distribution lines within six months.

·       Requiring utilities to consider installation and long-term operating costs of underground and overhead lines to allow consumers to make informed choices about which approach is most cost-effective.

·       Allowing for sharing of project-specific costs associated with placing lines underground when benefits accrue to ratepayers other than those directly affected by the conversion.

The Commission reaffirmed its commitment for further improvements to the state’s electric infrastructure. The Commission authorized its staff to pursue ways to  encourage placing electric distribution facilities in accessible locations to speed restoration of service in the wake of outages.  In addition, the Commission directed investor-owned electric utilities to develop safety and reliability standards for companies that want to place wires or other attachments on power poles.

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