FPL: Take a hike on your rate hike!

Grant-Miller-4-C3Florida Power & Light (FPL) – the biggest monopoly power company in Florida – wants to put their hand in your pocketbook like never before.

Last year, FPL made $1.65 billion off captive customers like you. You’re “captive” because the law says you can only buy electricity from FPL. Your elected representatives give them a monopoly. Florida is one of only 4 states that does not allow anyone other than your government-assigned utility to sell electricity.

So it’s particularly galling that FPL is asking the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) AGAIN for a big 24 percent rate hike – their third rate increase since 2009.

The PSC is supposed to watch out for consumers but they don’t. The Florida Supreme Court just took them to task for allowing FPL to charge you $500 million a year for a risky fracking venture.

How do they get away with this?

It’s because too many elected officials and regulators put special interests and campaign donors ahead of you. They take huge contributions from FPL and other power companies and protect the utilities’ sweetheart deal. Case in point, FPL is charging us now to add 2 more nuclear reactors at Turkey Point. Guess what? We pick up the tab even if they never get built.

We now know the unlined cooling canals at Turkey Point have been discharging pollutants into our groundwater for 40 years. The pollution is in the surface waters of both our neighboring national parks. Yet FPL staffer, and former Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Mike Sole spent an hour at the recent Florida Senate hearing playing down the problems with the agency he headed. He did say that FPL plans to hand you the $50 million bill to clean up their mistakes.

How do they get away with this?

State lawmakers like State Senators Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Anitere Flores have been FPL cheerleaders for years. Both served on the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee. Flores was Chair for a term and we heard not one word about any of these issues. Worse yet, Diaz de la Portilla was hired by FPL in 2012, while a sitting member of the Committee, to lobby local governments in support of the last rate increase against the interests of his own constituents.

It’s only because Flores and De la Portilla have stiff competition in the November election from State Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez – a vocal critic of FPL – and political newcomer Andrew Korge – that a hearing was even held recently in Homestead.

FPL spends more than one billion dollars annually to pay salaries. They hire former state regulators like Mike Sole to work the process. FPL does not have to report individual salaries in their filings at the PSC, but at the recent shareholder meeting for FPL’s parent company NextEra, they did just approve a $31 million dollar compensation package for their five top executives. Nice work if you can get it and by the way, the shareholder meeting, held far away in Oklahoma City, lasted all of 17 minutes.

Unfortunately, money influences the process in many ways. FPL has 32 lobbyists on their payroll now just to influence state legislators. They hire the law firms of key leaders such as the incoming President of the Senate.

Sadly, it’s all about political contributions in the State Capitol. In this recent reporting period, $36.1 million was spent lobbying state lawmakers from a variety of interests. That’s more than $140 million yearly to buy the cooperation of state lawmakers on behalf of special interests. No wonder voter anger is at an all time high.

It’s time to pay attention. The PSC is holding a hearing 6 p.m. Monday, June 27 on the proposed rate hike. It takes place at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium 2901 West Flagler.

Be there. Speak up. Stop this madness.

 


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3 Comments on "FPL: Take a hike on your rate hike!"

  1. Grant, thank you for your article. How does what we pay for electric power compare to other states, monopolies or no? Thank you.

  2. John Rumball | June 7, 2016 at 9:54 am | Reply

    The state is not real interested in customer owned solar systems since that reduces the amount of taxes and fees that we are charged on our power bills, so it is loss revenue to the state & local governments. So, I wouldn’t expect a whole lot of support or incentives in the near future from them due to their short sited ignorance. The great news is that the cost of solar is now lower than utility companies power and you are locking in your energy cost for 25+ years.

  3. Water Goddess | June 15, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Reply

    FPL SUCKS. Great Commentary. The Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme needs to end. They have neglected the grid for 20 plus years. In the late 80’s early 90’s they fired 10000 employees mostly maintenance and never looked back. When they had to import workers from other states after the hurricanes 2004 & 2005 It cost more than if they had kept all 10000 employees for 20 years.

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