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Audubon Society’s Input Rejected From Jacksonville Power Plant Case

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A hearing next week to decide if Florida Power and Light can buy and shut down a Jacksonville coal-fired power plant, is proceeding without the Florida Audubon Society.

A state regulator rejected the environmentalists’ attempt to join the case on the side of the power company.

Florida Power and Light wants to buy the coal-fired Cedar Bay power plant in Jacksonville and then shut it down. The News Service of Florida reports, federal regulators have approved the purchase. FPL spokeswoman Sarah Gatewood says the utility has a longstanding agreement to buy power from the plant, and 10 years remain in that contract.

“By buying the plant ourselves and either reducing operations and through other savings to get us out of the contract, we can actually save customers about $70 million over the next 10 years,” Gatewood said.

Environmental group the Audubon Society wanted to join FPL’s case, saying in its petition that lower carbon emissions are in everyone’s best interest. But Public Service Commission member Jimmy Patronis turned Audubon down, saying the case is about money, not the environment.

The power company will argue before utility regulators in Tallahassee on July 28.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP