- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A Democratic state legislator says allowing power companies in Florida to bill customers for the cost of oil and gas exploration violates free market principles and cheats consumers.

Rep. Dwight Dudley of St. Petersburg called Thursday for the Legislature to overrule the state Utilities Commission. He said it has allowed Florida Power & Light to charge customers $191 million for fuel exploration costs in Oklahoma and is considering allowing $750 million more.

Dudley said that transfers the risk of oil and gas exploration to consumers, and other utility companies will seek the same authority if the decision stands.

A state agency set up to protect utility consumers is suing to reverse the decision, but Dudley said the Legislature should take action without waiting for the courts to decide the issue.

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