After contentious decisions, Florida lawmakers file bill to reform PSC
- Public dissatisfaction with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) is significant after it voted 3-2 to weaken state energy-efficiency goals and not renew solar rebate programs when they terminate at the end of 2015. Now, the Tampa Bay times reports that two lawmakers have filed legislation to reform the regulatory agency.
- Republican Florida state legislators John Legg and Chris Sprowls say confidence in the PSC can be restored by a new law that limits commissioners to two consecutive terms, creates five districts, each with a resident commissioner, and makes it illegal for an elected official to become a commissioner until out of office over two years.
- The PSC recently approved Duke building a $1.5 billion natural gas plant at customer expense, despite its failed nuclear projects for which, with PSC approval, Duke's customers are still paying. FPL and Duke are now considering charging customers for natural gas fracking exploration.
With the cost of both energy efficiency and solar falling, the PSC’s decision went against not only popular sentiment but economic sense, renewable advocates say. Commissioners seem to have consistently backed the state’s three dominant investor-owned utilities, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric, and Florida Power & Light (FPL), over public opinion.
The regulators assented to the IOUs’ argument that solar rebates are not cost-effective.
The Sprowls-Legg proposal is similar to legislation proposed by Democratic Representative Dwight Dudley, who also pushed to make utility regulatory commissioners elected rather than gubernatorial appointments.
"The Florida PSC apparently believes their job is to look out for the best interest of the electric monopolies and their stockholders," Debbie Dooley, founder of the Green Tea Coalition and Conservatives for Energy Freedom, recently said. Both organizations are renewables advocacy coalitions of environmentalists and conservatives.
"The Florida Public Service Commission,” Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Executive Director Stephen Smith recently wrote, “is not even pretending to be objective anymore. "
- Tampa Bay Times Lawmakers file bill to reform Florida Public Service Commission