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A Florida Power & Light project to build a new natural-gas plant in Broward County received a key state approval Thursday. The state Public Service Commission approved what is known as a “determination of need” for the 1,163-megawatt plant, which would replace two older generating units in Dania Beach. The $888 million project is planned to begin operating in 2022. The Sierra Club and the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, opposed granting the determination of need, saying FPL had not shown the new plant is needed to meet customers’ projected energy usage in 2022. But during a brief discussion before Thursday’s vote, Commissioner Julie Brown said reliability of electricity generation is “paramount” with the project. FPL has said the project would improve air emissions and would lead to long-term cost savings for customers, at least in part because the new plant would operate more efficiently than the older units.

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