Crist tilts utility reg panel to the consumer sideby Dara Kam | October 1st, 2009
Gov. Charlie Crist opted for a Panhandle bar owner and a former newspaper editorial writer over two sitting Public Service Commissioners, putting a pro-consumer stamp on the panel for the first time in decades.
Crist picked David Klement, who spent more than four decades as a newspaperman and now heads the Institute of Public Policy and Leadership at the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, and Benjamin “Steve” Stevens, a Panhandle accountant who is co-owner of the Cabana Nightclub in Pensacola, to join the beleaguered five-member agency.
Crist snubbed current PSC Chairman Matthew Carter and Commissioner Katrina McMurrian, both appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, who were up for reappointment and had hoped to remain on the panel now in the midst of two historic rate cases: a $1.3 billion rate hike sought by Florida Power & Light Co. and a $500 million increase proposed by Progress Energy Florida.
Renegade Commissioner Nancy Argenziano, an outspoken critic of the panel and appointed by Crist in 2007, will become chairwoman next year, meaning no more business as usual for the utilities that had strong support from the regulatory panel in the past.
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