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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

PSC to investigate explosive allegations at Florida Power




Two letters from a group of anonymous high-level employees at Florida Power & Light, alleging they were forced to provide inaccurate and misleading information to regulators and shareholders by certain executives, have been filed and posted at the Public Service Commission. PSC Chairman Nancy Argenziano said the PSC "will not ignore them. We will look into it.'' Download FPLwhistleblower1 Download FPLwhistleblower2

When asked about the first letter, dated Jan. 20, FPL spokesman Mayco Villafana said "as a matter of policy, we do not comment on employee matters.'' A spokesman did not respond to requests for comment on the letters received by the PSC.

The letter dated Feb. 3 to FPL Group chairman Lew Hay, and another dated Jan. 20, were received independently by the Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times and have been verified as authentic. Hay sent a letter out to all employees in the past few days, and he cited the Feb. 3 letter but blacked out the names of the FPL vice presidents, Eric Silagy, Tim Fitzpatrick and Wade Litchfield, whom the employees allege were responsible for the misdeeds. Hay's letter also links to the anonymous letter using an internal Web site at FPL.

The employees tell Hay that among the allegations, the disgruntled employees have been forced by managers to:

* provide "selective, self-serving and inaccurate information to the PSC regarding the just completed rate case"

* "manipulate facts, data and information, and present half-truths for key messages and other communications used by us"

* be "deceptive with our stakeholders in trying to influence opinion leaders, politicians and customers"

* "to create, draft and manipulate facts" regarding the failed gas pipeline request

The employees allege that since losing the rate case, the company strategy is to keep its expenses "artificially high" to help its chances for a second rate case next year. "The truth is we will all suffer,'' the employees write.

Last week, FPL staffers throughout the company were interviewed by members of FPL's human resources and its legal department. The employees were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement saying they would not disclose what questions they were asked about or that they had been interviewed. They were told there would be no retribution if they would come forward with any allegations of wrongdoing, but they were required to sign a confidentiality agreement if they agreed to come forward. The employees said they wrote the Feb. 3 letter because "we are all scared for our jobs at this point" and they believe their actions are being monitored by FPL's corporate security.

Argenziano said the PSC had received the letters today and posted it on its Web site. "It is important to remember they are anonymous,'' Argenziano said. "Sometimes anonymous letters may be written for vindictive purposes. These letters seem to have a lot of detailed information, and the allegations are very serious. The PSC will try to find out if they are employees and, if they are, if they can be offered immunity.''

She said the PSC will ask Attorney General Bill McCollum to help decide whether immunity can be offered to any FPL employees who come forward.


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:18pm]


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