<p>Solar panels modules and blue sky with clouds</p><p>Violeta Chalakova</p>

Solar panels modules and blue sky with clouds

Violeta Chalakova

The state Public Service Commission approved a revised decision last week supporting a Duke Energy Florida solar-power program, carrying out an order from the Florida Supreme Court.

The commission last year approved Duke’s “Clean Energy Connection” program, which involves building 10 74.9-megawatt solar plants. But the League of United Latin American Citizens of Florida challenged the approval at the Supreme Court, arguing, at least in part, that the program would improperly shift costs and financial risks to the vast majority of Duke customers who would not participate.

The Florida Supreme Court issued an unusual order in May that required the commission to revise its decision approving the program. Justices wrote that the decision “leaves the court guessing as to the reasoning [behind the decision].”

With little discussion, the commission last week approved a revised decision, sending the issue back to the Supreme Court. Utilities have rushed in recent years to build solar-energy facilities, but the Duke program has a different financial structure that involves some customers volunteering to initially pay more on their electric bills to help finance the projects — and then receiving bill credits in the future.

The legal challenge has focused heavily on the financial structure, with opponents contending that the program would disproportionately benefit large customers that would help pay upfront costs and then receive future credits.

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— Compiled by Interim Business Editor Tory Brown


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