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FPL last-minute gotcha on $1.2 billion rate hike opponents

by Dara Kam | October 23rd, 2009

The Public Service Commission and opponents of Florida Power & Light Co.’s proposed $1.2 billion rate hike grilled the utility’s officials about stacking the deck at customer service hearings throughout the day and into the evening yesterday.

FPL Customer Service VP Marlene Santos conceded that the Juno Beach-based utility methodically rounded up dozens of commercial customers – many of whom were recipients of FPL’s charitable gifts – to attend the hearings to tell regulators how great FPL is and that the company deserves the boost.

But just before the hearing ended around 7:30 p.m., FPL lawyers produced documents showing that their opponents employed the same tactics.

Acting Chairwoman Lisa Edgar allowed the last-minute filings over the objections of rate hike opponents.

“We urge you to attend the hearing in your area and speak out against FPL’s requests,” read a June e-mail from the Florida Retail Federation to its members. AARP’s Florida director urged the same of that group’s members in an August article on the group’s Web site.

Today’s hearing kicked off on time at 9:30 but it’s unclear if it will finish up on time late this evening as scheduled.

The PSC is scheduled to vote next week on whether to postpone a decision on the rate case. Newly appointed Commissioner David Klement, a former newspaper editorial writer, will join the panel next week in time for the crucial vote.

Klement goes on the bench about two months earlier than the January kick-off of his four-year term because Gov. Charlie Crist tapped him to fill in for former Commissioner Katrina McMurrian. McMurrian quit with about three months left in her term after Crist passed her over for reappointment.

Crist also appointed Panhandle accountant and bar owner/manager Benjamin “Steve” Stevens to the PSC beginning next year.

Crist asked the PSC to hold off on the FPL case and a similar $500 million rate hike sought by Progress Energy Florida until both of his appointments join the panel. PSC staff recommend that the votes on both cases come this year.

After January, Crist will have hand-picked four of the five commissioners: Stevens, Klement and Nancy Argenziano and Nathan Skop, both appointed in 2007.

The governor last year reappointed Edgar, put on the panel by Gov. Jeb Bush.

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5 Responses to “FPL last-minute gotcha on $1.2 billion rate hike opponents”

  1. mlrh Says:

    The PSC doesn’t have the courage to
    tell this monopoly no. They will bury us in yet another increase in living expenses, when everyone is bombarded from all sides right now. This is ridiculous.
    Where is the outrage?
    Where is the citizens revolt in
    this state? This is SO not the time to raise costs in a state with over 10% unemployment. It’s disgusting. It’s politics as usual. We don’t do anything about it, so I guess we deserve it. Pathetic.

  2. Truthman Says:

    Maybe FPL should cut salaries to increase profit instead of raising rates. Once they get free energy from the sun, FPL could charge consumers a $50.00 flat monthly fee and still make money. It seems to me that as technology improves the cost of things decrease. At least that is the case in other industries.

  3. PSC needs to concentrate Says:

    The PSC needs to concentrate on what is really important to the rate payer. What is it going to cost us to finance the debt needed to build additional power plants in this state whether it is nuke or natural gas. The more revenues sink the higher the financing costs because the revenue stream becomes riskier.

    Lets not forget the high fuel adjustment clause on our bills are due to market manipulation in the comodity markets. Your outrageous power bills are more the falt of wall street than FPL. Senior level bonus may seem outrageous but they are the norm for the industry.

    Christ and the PSC are playing politics. And it will cost us all more money in the long run. Just wait until next years hurricane season. The stock is already down nearly 12 percent since the hearings began.

    All this buy a govenor who is going to bail before the next legislative session before big state budget decisions need to be made.

    My electric bill is outrageous but it is all due to the high costs of fuel last year. Remember that $141/barrel oil. Natural gas is down more than $10/BTU. That is where the savings is until wall street dumps the market and pushes commodities up again.

  4. FRF sux Says:

    The Florida Retail Federation are a bunch of dirt bags plain and simple.

  5. Jimbo Says:

    At this point, I really don’t care if FPL or anyone else sent people to the quality hearings. All I care about is my bill.

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