Utility reg chairman Carter: “Just leave us alone.”by Dara Kam | October 16th, 2009
Public Service Commission Chairman Matthew Carter wants everyone to leave him and his colleagues alone so they can get on with their jobs and has no plans to ask for an internal investigation into charges of possible conflicts of interest or bias against Commissioner Nancy Argenziano, he said today.
“Right now I plan on getting through this hearing,” Carter told reporters during a break in a nuclear cost recovery meeting now ongoing.
The panel is scheduled to vote later today on requests from Florida Power & Light Co. to charge customers $63 million for what the utility’s expenses on nuclear power plant construction and a similar $236 million request from Progress Energy Florida.
Yesterday, Associated Industries of Florida President Barney Bishop asked that PSC’s inspector general look into thousands of BlackBerry messages exchanged between Argenziano and her aide Larry Williams over the past two years. Bishop accused Argenziano of potentially breaking laws barring ex parte communications between regulators and the utilities and of breaking her oath of office in unflattering comments aimed at her colleagues.
Read about FPL’s link with AIF’s press release here.
AIF’s demand is yet another distraction for the panel also poised to vote on about $2 billion in base rate increases – $1.3 billion sought by FPL and $500 million by Progress.
Ten days ago, the panel turned down a $1.6 billion request from FPL to build a natural gas pipeline through 14 counties.
State Attorney Willie Meggs said recently that his investigators have found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing at the agency. And several internal investigations resulted in similar findings.
Carter said he’s not fed up by the spotlight being shined on the agency that up until now has operated in the shadows, but his kids are.
“Certainly my children have had it. They’ve called me in tears a couple of times,” Carter said.
“I think it is about time for us to move on. We’ve got a lot of major issues we’ve got to be dealing with. The sideshow just distracts from us doing our jobs. People should just leave us alone and let us go and do our jobs,” said Carter, who has less than three months left on the job after being passed over by Gov. Charlie Crist for reappointment late last month.
“I’m just trying to calm my children down so they can understand things happen. The sun will come up tomorrow and life goes on,” said Carter, a lawyer who is also a minister.
Tags: AIF, Associated Industries of Florida, Barney Bishop, Florida Power & Light, FPL, Nancy Argenziano, nuclear energy, PEF, Progress Energy, Progress Energy Florida, PSC, Public Service Commission, utilities