The Public Service Commission approved FP&L's request Thursday for a $191 million joint venture with PetroQuest Energy to drill for natural gas in Oklahoma. FP&L will be allowed to recover its investment through the PSC's fuel cost recovery clause.
In an equally hot issue, the PSC postponed a request by FP&L to approve guidelines for future natural gas production projects. The guidelines reportedly would allow FP&L to pursue projects up to $750 million a year without PSC approval.
The PSC is expected to review that request March 3.
The fuel clause is a regulation enacted in 1980 that allows power companies to pass along the expense of fuel to run power plants to customers. The cost is represented in the fuel portion of customer bills.
Under its proposal with PetroQuest, based in Louisiana, FP&L projects future savings for customers in the range of $52 million, according to a PSC statement. Critics argue that FP&L shareholders, not customers, should pay for business ventures.
Duke Energy, the largest utility in the Tampa Bay area, is also considering fracking exploration.