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. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  2. New York town approves Legoland proposal


    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  3. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate


    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Coming soon at two Tampa Bay area hospitals: a cancer treatment that could replace chemo


    A new cancer treatment that could eventually replace chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants — along with their debilitating side effects — soon will be offered at two of Tampa Bay's top-tier hospitals.

    Dr. Frederick Locke at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa is a principal investigator for an experimental therapy that retrains white blood cells in the body's immune system to fight cancer cells. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved these so-called "CAR-T" treatments for adults this month. In trials, 82 percent of cases responded well to the treatment, and 44 percent are still in remission at least eight months later, Locke said. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Regulator blasts Wells Fargo for deceptive auto insurance program


    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, 2017]