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Gov Calls For Hearing Halt

October 2nd, 2009 by flanews

Consumer advocacy groups are celebrating the governors decision to replace two members of the Public Service Commission, saying the changes will level the playing field between consumers and utilities. But the new commissioners wont take office until January and two major rate increases have to be voted on by the end of the year. As Whitney Ray tells us, the governor is asking the current commission to postpone its rulings.

Governor Charlie Crist is casting out two Public Service Commissioners and sending a message to utility executives. Consumer advocates say the changes will favor customers.

The governor sent a clear message that hes looking out for consumers. He really wants to make sure the people sitting on the PSC are consumer advocates, said Brad Ashwell of Florida PIRG.

The changes come amid accusations of secret communications and favoritism for utility companies. A disgraceful period many hope has ended.

But there are still two billion dollars in rate increases pending. And those decisions are scheduled to be made before the two commissioners are replaced.

Now the governor is calling for the decision be delayed. Florida PIRG is backing the call.

If the PSC approves those rate hikes theres going to be lots of questions no matter what, said Ashwell.

The Florida Retail Federation says any decision the current commission makes could be reversed.

If for some reason the public interest is not served, I think there are some steps that could remedy that with the new commission starting next year, said Rick McAllister with the Florida Retail Federation.

While so much remains unresolved customers remain hopeful the changes wont leave them paying more. As of right now the Progress Energy rate hike ruling is scheduled for November while the Florida Power and Light revenue increase decision is due in December, with details about how the rate will be divided among customers coming on January 11th.

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