FPL rate hearing can go onby Dara Kam | August 24th, 2009
A rate hearing to consider Florida Power and Light’s proposed $1.5 billion-a-year rate hike will continue, the panel overseeing the state’s utilities ruled.
The Public Service Commission hearing came to an abrupt halt earlier this morning when Commissioner Nathan Skop revealed that commission staffer Ryder Rudd had attended a Kentucky Derby party at the home of an FPL executive in Palm Beach County.
Skop asked that Rudd, who earns $92,000 a year, be removed from the case and other pending FPL dockets, including a $1.6 billion proposed natural gas pipeline.
Rudd had oversight of more than $4 billion in FPL cases pending before the panel, Skop objected. Skop also asked for Rudd’s resignation and questioned whether the current rate hike case should be dismissed.
PSC Chairman Matthew Carter ordered a recess and asked general counsel Patrick Imhof for advice on how to proceed.
Imhof told the panel that this morning’s rate hearing should continue but Rudd, who was never identified by name, should be taken off the case.
“Our recommendation is to remove the person in question from all FPL dockets pending review by the inspector general and review with the office of the general counsel,” Imhof said. But, he added: “There is no impediment to the rate case moving forward at this time.”
Carter ordered a lunch break so the commission, staff and lawyers representing the utility and consumers could have a “fresh start.”
The hearing is scheduled to begin again at 1 p.m.