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PSC Scandal Sheds Light on Past Rate Case

September 15th, 2009 by flanews

As questions of credibility grow over the Public Service Commissions dealings with utilities, theres a new lawsuit to overturn a 137 million dollar rate hike granted to Tampa Electric Company. The hike is 33 million dollars higher than staff recommended. As Whitney Ray tells us, customers, the Attorney General, and the Florida Retail Federation are asking the Florida Supreme Court to review the case.

The Public Service Commission approved a 137 million dollar rate increase for Tampa Electric last March. The increase is 33 million dollars higher than staff recommended. Rates went up in May, but recent allegations of secret conversation between PSC staffers and utility executives have customers wondering if they were cheated. Even the governor called it

Bizarre I would say and Im not sure I understand all the details about it, I dont want to pass judgment too quickly but it does sound odd on the surface, said Crist.

The Attorney General, the Florida Retail Federation, and customers of Tampa Electric are asking the state supreme court to stop the rate increase. Florida Retail Federation Attorney Schef Wright says opponents of the rate hike were blindsided by the higher amount.

We frankly feel like our due process rights have been violated by the commission undertaking the vote to give them extra money for something they didnt ask for on an issue we never had a change to litigate, said Wright.

In the midst of the controversy surrounding the PSC and private Blackberry messages with the utility companies, Attorney General Bill McCollum announced a plan to begin storing his staffs Blackberry messages on a server.

Anything that has been pinned before has not been retained and now we found out how to retain it our server. Others may not have the capability, we just dont know, but we are encouraging all agencies in state government to see if they can, said McCollum.

The PSC has put a freeze on Blackberry messaging among its employees and is reviewing ways to make the process more transparent. The PSC began reviewing suggested changes to the process at its internal affairs hearing today. Tomorrow the Florida Power and Light rate increase hearings will resume. FP&L is seeking a 1.3 billion dollar rate increase.

Posted in Charlie Crist, McCollum, State News | 16 Comments »

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