Crist says utility panel appointments hang on FPL rate hike voteby Dara Kam | September 14th, 2009
The future of two utility regulators depends upon their vote in a proposed $1.3 billion Florida Power & Light Co. rate hike, Gov. Charlie Crist said this morning.Crist has until Oct. 1 to reappoint two commissioners – Chairman Matthew Carter and Katrina McMurrian – whose terms expire Jan. 1. Crist said he wants them to just say no to the Juno Beach-based utility.
“Let’s see what the commissioners want to do. Then I can have a better handle on who to appoint or reappoint,” Crist told reporters this morning.
A reporter asked Crist if he heard the governor correctly – that the commissioners’ vote would affect their appointments.
“You did,” Crist answered. “I think it would be nice to reject the increase. I’m trying to appoint members that would be sympathetic to the people and the economic challenge that they’re facing. So that’s a factor.”
Sen. Mike Fasano on Friday asked Carter, appointed to the panel by Gov. Jeb Bush, to indefinitely delay the FPL hearing and a $500 million Progress Energy Florida rate case until a storm of controversies surrounding the regulatory panel clears.
“I don’t know why we should postpone it,” he said.
Carter said this morning that he hadn’t seen Fasano’s letter because he was on bed rest Friday recuperating from two back surgeries earlier this year.
Fasano wants to hold off on the hearings until a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation and possible Senate hearings looking into the relationships between commissioners and their staff and the utilities they oversee are complete. Commissioner Nancy Argenziano has also requested a grand jury investigation into the agency and how it operates.
The PSC’s lobbyist Ryder Rudd resigned after an internal investigation into his attendance at FPL VP Ed Tancer’s Kentucky Derby party at his Palm Beach Gardens home.
One aide was fired and two others were suspended after it was learned that they had shared their secret Blackberry PIN codes with an FPL attorney.
Carter last week banned the use of Blackberry PINs and other forms of communication that don’t create a public record.
But this morning he claimed ignorance about how to handle the technology that is part of the telecommunications industry that he regulates.
“I don’t know. I really don’t know. I mean, I’m an old school guy. I don’t do a lot of the modern technology stuff so I really don’t know. I guess the technology people probably could answer that about pinning, and blogging and YouTube,” Carter told reporters at a separate event.
Carter said this morning he was unaware of any misconduct by the PSC.
“I don’t personally know of any wrongdoing or any violation of law or anything,” Carter said.
McMurrian late Friday proposed that all communications between PSC commissioners and staff and utilities be put in writing and posted on the PSC’s web page.