Fate of FPL rate hike now with state justicesby John Kennedy | September 19th, 2013
The fate of a multi-year rate hike for Florida Power & Light now rests with the state Supreme Court, which was urged Thursday by the state’s consumer advocate to toss the deal on procedural grounds.
Associate Public Counsel Joseph McGlothlin told justices that his office objects to the settlement approved by the Public Service Commission with the power company, but wasn’t given a chance to fight the matter before regulators.
FPL avoided a protracted rate hearing in 2012 when it reached an agreement benefiting some of the utility’s biggest industrial users and allowing for a $350 million base rate hike in January and automatic increases in 2014 and 2016 when new power plants open.
In court filings, the public counsel’s office points out those commercial clients represent less than one percent of FPL’s 4.6 million customers. McGlothlin said the Office of Public Counsel’s approval is “necessary to the validity of a settlement” that affects all customers.
Alvin Davis, attorney for Juno Beach-based FPL, countered by telling justices that McGlothlin was mischaracterizing how the settlement was reached. Davis said that most of the issues the public counsel wants reviewed “issue-by-issue” before the PSC were already considered by state regulators.
“This was not sprung on public counsel at the last minute,” Davis said.