Argenziano lashes out at Lopez-Canteraby Dara Kam | September 11th, 2009
Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano snapped back at state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera for criticizing her critique of his questions of Public Service Commission Chairman Matthew Carter.
Argenziano, a former lawmaker who served in both the House and the Senate, sent a heated letter to Lopez-Cantera late this evening in which she expounds on her repeated complaints that lawmakers with too close of ties to utilities have too much influence over the regulatory panel on which she sits.
Lopez-Cantera sits on the council that selects nominees for the governor to appoint to the regulatory agency. He wasn’t happy with the answers Carter gave at the Sept. 1 nominating council meeting although Carter did make the list of six finalists for Gov. Charlie Crist to consider.
Her letter is a response to one Lopez-Cantera sent to her yesterday criticizing her reaction to his dissatisfaction with the PSC’s unanimous decision to force Florida Power & Light officials to release the salaries of all its employees that earn more than $165,000 per year. He advised Argenziano she could have found the information in the Juno Beach-based corporation’s federal filings as he and his office staff did in less than an hour.
“This same information would have saved the PSC time and taxpayer money,” Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, wrote in a letter sent yesterday.
The federal information does not include bonuses and other perks that boost some of the salaries by up to 500 percent, Argenziano responded tonight.
“Your apparently gullible acceptance, Representative Cantera, as the FERC document reflects, that the salary of FPL’s Executive Vice President is $23,000, is flabbergasting. The ‘less than an hour’ which you and your office spent producing this useless information is perhaps the true waste of time and taxpayer money,” Argenziano wrote.
Argenziano, appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to the commission last year, is on a mission to clean up the PSC, which is currently mired in scandals involving secret communications between commission staff and utility officials while rate hearings are underway and a perception of coziness between the regulators and the utilities whose rates they set.
The PSC’s lobbyist Ryder Rudd resigned earlier this month after an internal investigation into his attendance at FPL VP Ed Carter’s Kentucky Derby party in Palm Beach Gardens.
State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, today asked Carter to indefinitely halt rate hearings in which FPL is seeking a $1.3 billion rate hike and Progress Energy Florida is asking for a $500 million boost until all the controversies are straightened out. He said the public has lost trust in the commission.
Chairman Carter did not respond to Fasano’s request because he was on “bed rest,” PSC spokeswoman Cynthia Muir wrote in an e-mail.
Commissioner Katrina McMurrian also today proposed that all future communications between commissioners or staff and the utilities be in writing and posted on the PSC website.