The Firm recently assisted the Babcock Ranch Community Independent Special District (District) in securing a franchise with Florida Power & Light (FPL) as the District’s sole electric provider. Since 1965, FPL and the Lee County Electric Cooperative had split the lands included in the District between them by virtue of a territory agreement which had been approved by the Florida Public Service Commission and amended over time.
In 2007, the Florida Legislature passed a special bill creating the District, defining its boundaries and granting the District the unusual power to provide electric service within District boundaries. Faced with the prospect of having District lands served by two electric providers, and resulting inefficiencies and complexities of such a situation, the District attempted to have Lee County Electric Cooperative concede the portion of its service area within the District to FPL. Unable to do so, the District turned to NGN for assistance.
The Firm filed a notice with the Florida Public Service Commission indicating that the District would be a new municipal electric service provider pursuant to the powers granted by the Legislature. LCEC, FPL as well as other electric utilities and utility associations intervened in opposition. At its October meeting, the District’s board of supervisors approved a settlement agreement among the District, FPL, LCEC and the sole landowner within the District which establishes FPL as the sole electric provider in the District. The settlement provides for the District to enter a franchise agreement with FPL and to send to LCEC a portion of franchise fees to be paid by FPL as compensation for LCEC’s relinquishing its portion of the service area to FPL.
The notice application and resulting franchise arrangement was an innovative means of achieving the District’s desired result while obtaining electric service for future District residents from Florida’s largest utility with rates consistently among the lowest in the state. This result also permits the District and FPL to continue working toward the creation of a large solar generating facility within District boundaries — a win/win/win for all stakeholders as well as our environment.