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Jan 17, 8:00 PM EST

Sierra Club challenges nearly $1 billion electric rate hike


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- An environmental group is challenging a rate hike for Florida's largest electric utility.

The Sierra Club on Tuesday asked the state Supreme Court to reject an $811 million hike that was approved last year for Florida Power & Light. FPL has about 4.8 million customers in the state.

FPL initially wanted a $1.3 billion hike but scaled it back during settlement negotiations. The hike was approved by the Florida Public Service Commission and part of it took effect this month.

Company officials said the higher rates will help pay for improvements, including a new natural gas plant.

But Sierra Club officials maintain state law required FPL to present "substantial evidence" to prove the gas plants were needed. They assert the company never showed if it considered options such as solar.

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