PSC employee possible misconduct halts FPL rate hearingby Dara Kam | August 24th, 2009
A Public Service Commission executive staffer and his wife went to a party at a Florida Power and Light executive’s home this summer, possibly breaking rules.
The revelation brought an FPL rate hearing to a screeching halt before it began early this morning at PSC headquarters in Tallahassee.
As the rate hearing began, Commissioner Nathan Skop asked that PSC Director of Strategic Analysis and Governmental Affairs Ryder Rudd be removed from the case because he had attended the party while taking part in the $1 billion rate hike request.
Skop’s request took PSC Chairman Matthew Carter by surprise although Rudd apparently called Skop and Commissioner Nancy Argenziano over the weekend to give them a heads-up about the possible ethical lapse.
“I’m caught flat-footed,” said Carter, before ordering a recess.
Skop asked that Rudd, who has direct oversight of more than $4 billion in cases including a proposed natural gas pipeline pending before the commission, be taken off the FPL case and resign.
“Such inexcusable conduct undermines the public trust and confidence in the regulatory process and impugns the integrity of this commission,” Skop argued. “I cannot condone that conduct, the commission cannot condone that conduct.”
Skop, appointed to the PSC by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007, is a former Palm Beach Gardens resident.
“I’ve got to tell you this is all new to me. It’s new to me,” said Chairman Carter. “If I had known that over the weekend I certainly would have called all the commissioners together for an emergency meeting pending this hearing.”
A room full of lawyers representing FPL and consumer groups is waiting to see if the hearing, scheduled for two weeks, will continue.