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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

FPL wants Skop removed from all of their cases at the PSC

2

September

In the continuing saga between Florida Power & Light and the Public Service Commission, the Juno Beach-based company has filed a motion today asking that Commissioner Nathan Skop remove himself from any remaining cases in which they are involved.

The motion, filed by Tallahassee attorney Barry Richard, calls Skop's comments to the news media and his comments from the bench "increasingly more hostile and adversarial.'' Skop was not reappointed to a second term after being rejected by the Public Service Nominating Council.

If Skop agrees to recuse himself, the panel will be left with four members, including PSC Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano, who was also rejected for reappointment.

The motion accuses Skop of being adversarial when he accused an FPL lawyer of "blatant disrespect" for opposing Skop's request to bring FPL CEO Armando Olivera before the commission to explain why the company provided the commission outdated data on its nuclear costs. It says that Skop "has reserved his antagonistic behavior for FPL and displayed no similar behavior with respect" to Progress Energy. FPL also objected to Skop's comments when he suggested an FPL witness may have committed perjury and when he accused the company of "spin," "misrepresentations," and "selective discourse."

Richard also cited Skop's statements late last week when he was arguing to bring Olivera before the commission and said:

"I'm a regulator, I do my job, and I've lost my job because I've chosen to do my job. So again, I'm not backing down from FPL in any way. I can back up what I state."

FPL's motion calls those comments "egregiously inappropriate for a quasi-judicial officer." It claims that he "crossed the line from impartial arbiter to zealous adversary and that his personal animosity toward FPL has risen to such a level that he utterly fails to maintain even an appearance of impartiality."

Richard told the Herald/Times that while Skop's behavior had been increasingly adversarial in the past, "the last straw for the company" came during the nuclear cost recovery hearings last week.

Skop would not comment. The nuclear cost recovery hearings will resume Sept. 7, at which time Olivera will testify under a subpoena issued by Argenziano. 

The motion may have a chilling effect on other commissioners voicing their opinions about the company's response to regulators. Skop must now decide to remain or remove himself. If he refuses to remove himself, Richard said, the company could appeal it to the First District Court of Appeals, which he expects would rule fairly quickly. Here's the motion.

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:26am]

    

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