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Could be lights out in Senate for utility rate hike

by John Kennedy | April 15th, 2011

Legislation that would have given Florida Power & Light and other investor-owned utilities authority to boost customer rates $377 million over the next five years looks troubled in the state Senate.

Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander said he spoke Friday with Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Wellington, chairman of the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee that advanced the legislation (CS/SB 2078) earlier this month.

Alexander said that in their conversation, he discouraged Benacquisto from continuing with the legislation, as crafted, since it gave utilities authority to raise rates without prior approval by regulators.

Alexander, one of the Senate leaders, said Benacquisto, a first-year lawmaker, has agreed, and is reworking it. Benacquisto couldn’t be immediately reached Friday evening. 

“If it’s a…carve-out with no regulatory oversight, I think that’s not ideal,” Alexander said, adding that the legislation involved a “heckuva lot of money.”

The electric companies, heavy contributors to both political parties, would have been allowed to tack on an additional charge — without prior approval by state regulators — to cover their costs of building solar and biomass energy plants or buying renewable energy from producers.

For FPL’s 4 million customers, mostly in South Florida, the Jupiter-based utility’s $206.1 million share could mean an extra $2.40-a-month on average, or $28.80 annually, to encourage the use of alternate sources to oil-, gas-, coal-, or nuclear power.

Supporters said the move will create jobs in the burgeoning renewable industry. Critics said the extra charge is a giveaway, especially to FPL which last year was denied most of a $1.25 billion rate hike by the Florida Public Service Commission.

“I’m just concerned about that level of unregulated choice by IOUs. That doesn’t strike me as the way the Senate wants to be,” Alexander said.

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6 Responses to “Could be lights out in Senate for utility rate hike”

  1. Outraged Taxpayer Says:

    FPL contributes to both parties for a payback in rate hikes. The taxpayer during this stressful economy will take the hit. When will people understand that candidates are picked by lobbyists and their campaign contributions?

  2. Me Says:

    FPL was just loking for a quicker way to get this giveaway. Afetr all they pay lots to legisltors to get what they want. They don’t want to wait for the PSC process. The PSC denied them last year. The the four new PSC Commissioners that are no utility lackeys were thrown off the PSC. Now the PC has hand picked utility commissioners again and FPL will eget their money from them, but they just have to wait and play the regulatory facade game.
    Benacquisto is a FPL puppett and should never have been elected. She had all the special interest money. She has no clue. Alexander knew once the real meaning of that bill got exposed, it as over. If the giveaway had remained a secret, I have no doubt FPL would have gotten what it paid for. Its all a sham on the people of Florida. FPL will get what they want.

  3. Wung Woo Says:

    Wow, kinda scary when you think about it.

    http://www.web-anonymity.at.tc

  4. Dave Says:

    Here we go again. I have lived in FL for over 40 yrs. This is the same old story over again. The PSC is just a shill for FPL. FPL makes billions in profit free & clear. They have tens of millions to pay our gov’t ‘representatives’ who allow them to rape the public from start to finish. What is the logic here? We pay to build their plants and are charged excessively for power. Why aren’t their profits plowed back into the infrastructure? This is beyond belief greed aided and abetted by those in Tallahassee. We need a revolution so badly in this country but how do we do that when ‘supreme’ court justices are onb the take too?

  5. classifieds Says:

    $30 a year? Is this really necessary? Maybe energy is really getting that expensive, but we should all try to go green then to save money & the planet. If these rates keep going up, we will have no choice!

  6. Searcher Says:

    Another CORPORATION that does not want ANY public oversight, so they CONtribute and LOBBY to get their way, which means that the Public get’s TOASTED. Did you notice that the last PSC would not approve this, and they were all let go.

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