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Booter Imhof’

Former PSC lawyer goes back to the legislature

Monday, November 23rd, 2009 by Dara Kam

The Public Service Commission’s former general counsel Booter Imhof, who resigned after less than a year on the job during the fray over a proposed $1.2 billion Florida Power & Light Co. rate hike, is now heading a Senate committee dealing with other regulated businesses.

Imhof will take over as staff director for the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Jan. 1, according to an e-mail distributed in the Senate this morning.

Imhof’s a familiar face in both chambers – he served in the same role in both the House and Senate committees.

Utility regulators are expected to make a decision on Imhof’s replacement soon.

At the top of the list: Curt Kiser, a long-time Republican who once served in the state Senate and who sat on the Public Service Commission Nominating Council for 17 years; Mike Twomey, a former PSC lawyer who later lobbied for AARP; and Bonnie Davis, a Tallahassee lawyer who represents utilities.

FPL rate hike round-up

Friday, September 18th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Florida Power & Light’s proposed $1.3 billion rate hike 13-hour marathon hearing yesterday concluded with one head-injured FPL lawyer, an order for an independent audit of the utility’s corporate jet spending and yet another delay to hear yet more testimony next month.

Public Service Commissioner Nathan Skop demanded the audit to check into the Juno Beach-based utility’s fuzzy accounting for VIPs, their wives and guests who flew, some at customers’ expense, to far-flung destinations including Europe, Martha’s Vineyard and Louisville during the Kentucky Derby.

FPL will have spent at least $32.5 million between 2006 and 2009 on the corporate aircraft travel alone, its records show.

“It’s very important to me that the rate payers of FPL are not being allocated costs that are not prudently incurred,” Skop said.

The discussion of the executive’s flights revealed that FPL Chief Financial Officer Armando Pimentel flew to Tallahassee on the corporate jet, earning a rebuke from Jon Moyle, a lawyer for the Florida Industrial Power Users Group that opposes the rate increase.


Fired utility reg panel staffer reassigned to general counsel’s office

Thursday, September 17th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano’s former aide Larry Harris is back at work at the utility regulatory agency in the general counsel’s office.

Argenziano fired Harris earlier this month for giving his secret BlackBerry personal identification number (PIN) to Florida Power & Light Co. attorney Natalie Smith.

The PINs allow BlackBerry users to exchange messages that can be impossible to trace.

Two other commissioners – including Chairman Matthew Carter – put their aides, who make at least $84,000 a year, on paid leave until investigations into the messaging mystery are resolved.

Carter also banned the use of the PINs or other types of communication that don’t leave a public record.

Harris was reassigned to the general counsel’s office as a senior attorney where he now earns $60,000 a year. The PSC’s general counsel Booter Imhof resigned Friday. He gave two weeks’ notice and said he is going back to work for the House of Representatives.

The PSC’s lobbyist Ryder Rudd resigned earlier this month after it was revealed that he attended a Kentucky Derby party at the Palm Beach Gardens home of FPL VP Ed Tancer. An internal investigation could not prove whether Rudd, who oversaw staff handling several FPL rate requests, broke state law or rules by going to the fete.

The musical chairs at the PSC takes place during a $1.3 billion proposed FPL rate hike hearing. Progress Energy Florida is also seeking a $500 million rate increase. That case is scheduled to resume next week.

Bob Butterworth or Rod Smith headed to PSC?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 by Dara Kam

There’s a job opening at the Public Service Commission since general counsel Booter Imhof quit on Friday while the regulatory panel is mired in controversy.

Commissioner Lisa Edgar proposed two well-known Democratic politicians to step in for Imhof: former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, who also served as Department of Children and Families chief under Gov. Charlie Crist, and former state Sen. Rod Smith, who ran a losing battle in the Democratic primary for governor in 2006.

“It’s time to untangle the spaghetti bowl in which we find ourselves,” said Edgar.

“The question is why would they want to come into the spaghetti bowl?” questioned Commissioner Nathan Skop.

Commissioner Nancy Argenziano suggested former statewide prosecutor Melanie Hines.

Whoever the commission picks, Chairman Matthew Carter repeatedly laid down the law in one regard.
“I want them to agree not to come before us for at least five years in any capacity representing any party. I can’t go for that,” said Carter.

Carter said he’d prefer to have the prospective general counsel promise to never come before the panel, but backed away from that.

“If we’re dealing with a perception problem, then certainly we need to make sure we don’t add to it. The best thing to do when you’re in a hole is to stop digging,” he said.

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