Make us your home page

Man bites dog; Florida PSC rejects electric rate hike

Holy shamoley! This is a turning point.

Our state's second-biggest electric company, Progress Energy Florida, went to Tallahassee asking for a $500 million rate increase …

And got its patootie kicked. On Monday the state Public Service Commission slashed the company's proposed rate of profit to keep things about where they are now.

To be exact, the PSC set an allowed rate of return for Progress of 10.5 percent, two full points lower than the 12.54 percent request.

The PSC even went below its own staff's recommendation of 11.25 percent, which would have meant about $180 million more a year.

Compare this decision to last year's, when the commission was ruling on a rate request from Tampa Electric Co. To the dismay of consumer advocates in that case, the PSC went above the staff recommendation.

Since then, however, we've seen various scandals at the commission, and two new members appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist as part of a housecleaning.

Both of the new members, Ben A. Stevens III and David Klement, were part of Monday's unanimous vote for 10.5 percent — with Stevens saying he would have been perfectly willing to go to 9.

Member Nathan Skop proposed the 10.5 percent, Chairman Nancy Argenziano supported it, and even member Lisa Polak Edgar went along, although she fretted that the decision was shortsighted.

This has to be worrisome if you're Florida Power & Light Co., the state's biggest electric company, which has its own rate case on Wednesday.

Only half-jokingly, I wonder what kind of strings the electric companies will try to pull with their friends in the Legislature, now that they're on a losing streak.

After all, when this kind of thing happened in the mid 1990s to Florida's telephone companies, they simply got the Legislature to take away the PSC's power to regulate telephone profits. I doubt the electric companies could go that far, but you never know …

• • •


• Is there anybody who hasn't hired a lawyer in the firing of USF football coach Jim Leavitt? I was thinkin' of picking one up just in case.

• The police union in Tampa is picketing City Council members who didn't vote for a police raise, calling them "the criminal's best friend." Is that the yardstick? Give the police union whatever it wants, even in a budget crisis with 10 percent-plus unemployment in the community, or else you support criminals?

• I confess to cheering at the news that lottery sales are down. Once a supporter of the idea, these days I have a strong distaste for it — and its never-ending schemes to get people to spend more money — because it has made education funding in our state worse, not better. Let people gamble all they want in the private sector and tax it. But government-run gambling is no way to pay for a democracy.

• If you're interested in a big statewide protest against oil drilling in Florida waters, check out this Web site:

This group is planning a protest on Florida's beaches on Feb. 13. (In fairness, if you are planning a big statewide protest on Florida's beaches in favor of oil drilling, I'll print that one, too.)

• Just remember that it's supposed to be in the upper 60s, at least, by week's end. So, see, things are basically good.

Man bites dog; Florida PSC rejects electric rate hike 01/11/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 11, 2010 11:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  2. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  3. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  4. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  5. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.