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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

FPL exec holds firm to rate request



Visiting his second editorial board in two days, Florida Power & Light chief Armando Olivera told the Palm Beach Post editors Friday that the company needs all $1.3 billion of its rate increase so that it can save more money on energy efficiencies for customers.

Randy Schultz, head of the editorial board, asked Olivera if FPL would be willing to reduce the amount of the rate increase request. Olivera didn't say no, but he didn't say yes, either: "To reduce the rate is to say a lot of the things we're talking about aren't going to get done,'' he said. "There are things we believe will save customers money.''

Olivera repeated the criticism he leveled at his senior legislative staff for socializing and sending text messages to staff at the Public Service Commission when he spoke to the Miami Herald editorial board on Thursday. He told the Post:: "I didn't know that they were doing it but that’s not an excuse. I think they thought it's no different than talking with somebody, which is allowed...But it undermines the crediblity of the company.''

The company's CEO spent much of the 90-minute meeting outlining the company's primary justification for seeking its 31 percent rate hike: if we spend money, customers save money. He outlined how investment in cleaner more efficient operations will take cash and he suggested that projects the PSC has already been approved now need to the rate increase to finance them.

If FPL doesn't get its rate increase will it appeal to the Florida Supreme Court?, he was asked.

"I think its premature and I preserve all options today,'' he said. "Except except that I will say to you if the outcome is so bad that we have to appeal to the supreme court, we have a more fundamental problem than that becuase it will send a sign that the kinds of investment should have been approved and the constructive regulation climate in Florida has changed. And that will have far reaching consequences in how investors view Florida and view investing in electric infrastructure in Florida.''

Olivera raised doubts about the governors appointees to the PSC, as he had at the Herald. David Klement and Steve Stevens have no utility experience.

Olivera said: "You do worry about making sure the eople who are voting on these things have an understanding of what they're voting on and the options that are there. I worry about that absolutely.''

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:08pm]


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