Two of three PSC members say they won't socialize with utility execs while in LA
Three of Florida's five Public Service Commissioners are heading to Los Angeles this weekend for a five-day conference of the National Association of Utility Regulators July 17-20. Commissioners Ronald Brise, Julie Brown and commissioner Chairman Art Graham will be attending the conference, as will several officials of the companies they regulate. Brown and Brise are also bringing their aides.
Brise and Brown told the Times/Herald they do not plan to attend any social gatherings with officials from any Florida regulated utilities and they do not have any meetings scheduled with officials from FPL or it's parent company, NextEra. Graham would not respond to questions about the event.
Graham and Commissioner Lisa Edgar came under first in February for socializing with officials from companies who had cases pending before them. During his confirmation hearing last spring, legislators grilled Graham for talking with FPL vice president Ken Hoffman in a group for 30 minutes and spending an hour having drinks with the head of Aqua Utilities.
Brise said he will have limited contact with utility officials while at the conference. "My perspective is, I'm there for interacation with other commissioners,'' he said. "If I'm in a room with someone from a regulated industry I'm not going to be rude and not say 'Hi' but we're not going to have a long conversation."
Although both Hoffman and Eric Silagy, senior vice president of regulatory affairs for FPL, had pre-registered to attend the conference, neither plan to attend, said company spokeswoman Jackie Anderson. Paul Lewis, director of regulatory affairs for Progress Energy, had also registered but the company said he will not be attending.
Others who pre-registered for the event include: Terry Deason and Susan Clark, both former PSC commissioners who work for the Tallahassee law firm of Radey, Thomas, Yon and Clark and represent Florida Power & Light, Progress Energy, Tampa Electric and Gulf Power before the PSC; Connie Jones and Stacey Meaders of Net Communications; Marvin Johnson of Bright House Network; Jeffrey Traynham of Infinitive Energy; Leighton Lang of TracFone Wireless and Billy Stiles of Tampa Electric Co.
The five-day conference is jam-packed with informational sessions about issues in the fast-paced and evolving world of utility regulations. The agenda includes panel discussions on the future of the electricty market, energy storage and the electric grid, cybersecurity, responding to tornadoes and the regulation of alternative energy.