Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Utility customers lose again

Gov. Rick Scott says he wants it to be inexpensive to do business and live in Florida, and he has a tax-cut agenda to prove it. But when it comes to power bills, he hasn't lifted a finger to stop the pillaging of his constituents by the state's electric companies. So much for being an outsider. This governor looks as beholden to special interests as every other leader in Tallahassee — at the expense of average Floridians and business.

The latest installment in this anticonsumer saga came last week: The state's chief consumer advocate filed a complaint with the state Supreme Court contending he had been illegally shut out of the Public Service Commission's rate negotiations with the state's biggest utility, Florida Power & Light. Not a single elected state leader batted an eye. That includes Scott, who has appointed four of the five PSC members since taking office in January 2011.

Scott, a former hospital CEO, knows better than most that the cost of electricity is just as important to businesses' bottom line as taxes — if not more so. Yet he's never said a word about the fact that Progress Energy customers in Florida — including in Pinellas and Pasco counties — pay on average 25 percent more than customers of Florida Power & Light. He hasn't weighed in on the ongoing debacle at the Crystal River nuclear power plant, where consumers face years of potential repair costs for Progress Energy's do-it-yourself attempt. He hasn't said a peep about repealing the 2006 law that has allowed Progress Energy to make money by billing consumers for a proposed Levy County nuclear plant that may never be built.

While Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy (which recently merged with Duke Energy) have been pleading their cases to raise rates before the Public Service Commission, they have also been generous political contributors. Since Scott took office, both companies and their affiliates have contributed a combined $2 million to the Republican Party of Florida. And they have sent nice contributions to Scott's "Let's Get to Work" political committee: Progress Energy deposited $100,000 in April; FP&L gave $250,000 in June.

That's a total of 2.4 million reasons that Republican leaders in Tallahassee, including Scott, aren't more concerned about Florida's two biggest utilities looking to raise prices on average Floridians. Only in Tallahassee does $2.4 million in soft money from special interests weigh more than the wallets of 19 million Floridians. The utilities have owned the Public Service Commission for years, and PSC members who stuck up for consumers have been replaced. Now they are buying silence from the governor and his Republican allies.

Who will speak up for Floridians?

Comments
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18