• Sun. Aug 7th, 2022

Public Service Commission faces two appeals in Florida Supreme Court over FPL rate hikes

posted on February 3, 2022 through Romy White

Floridians Against Rate Increase (FAIR) plans to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court regarding the Florida Public Service Commission’s (PSC) approval of a multi-year base rate increase for Florida Power & Light (FPL).

The PSC in October approved a $692 million increase for January 1, 2022 and a $560 million increase in 2023, as well as additional increases in 2024 and 2025.

The PSC also approved a rate adjustment to account for rising natural gas costs, which is also the subject of a separate appeal by three groups.

FPL says the increases are needed to provide infrastructure, including millions of additional solar panels.

But FAIR Chairman Mike Hightower, in a new statement, called the rate hike “a multi-billion dollar cash grab at special interest” following the difficult times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It should be noted that other members of FAIR include the former longtime executive director of the PSC, Tim Devlin, who resigned at the request of Art Graham, one of the current five commissioners of the PSC.

Devlin’s departure after 35 years with the PSC came after he sought information on the number of former PSC employees who were employed by Florida utility companies.

The PSC’s approval of the FPL rate hikes is also stirring controversy in the Florida gubernatorial race as former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, challenges current Governor Ron DeSantis’ re-election bid.

According to Crist, the PSC is “in the pocket of big public services” and the “rubber stamps” of rate hikes, and, if he is re-elected governor, he would like to change the system so that the commissioners of the PSC are elected by voters, not appointed. from a list of candidates proposed by the PSC Nominating Council.

Crist is not the only Democrat crying foul. Four Florida House representatives are pressuring the PSC to audit FPL spending, blaming the utility of spending millions on groups involved in political activities they say helped secure Republican control of the Florida Senate in 2020. The FPL has denied any wrongdoing.

Additionally, FPL is accused of filling the political accounts of Florida lawmakers, including Senator Jennifer Bradley, who introduced Senate Bill 1024, which the company drafted, targeting net metering, which allows homeowners and businesses to offset utility costs with the solar energy generated on their property. .

Bradley’s bill, which is now pending in the Senate and has a companion bill in the House, aims to credit solar customers at wholesale prices instead of retail prices and would allow utilities to charge its solar customers a monthly minimum, grid access fee and installation fee.

Solar power customers grew 57% in 2020, and that number is expected to grow nearly 40% every year through 2025, representing a projected $700 million threat to utilities.

However, FPL argues that its 24,000 solar customers are subsidized for the maintenance of the company’s grid by around $30 million, which is paid by its non-solar customers, which number more than 5.5. million, making it the largest energy company in the country.

The Public Counsel Office, an independent office that represents utility customers, can be contacted at 1-800-342-0222.