Gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Jack Latvala is making a bold (especially in Florida) promise after Hurricane Irma:
He will not take any more money from electric utilities. At least for now.
“In this cycle,” he said, “I’m done taking money from them.”
Latvala, still the leader of the Tampa Bay legislative delegation, said power companies should be diverting the money they pour into influencing politicians into something a little more useful.
“I think that money ought to be spent on improving the power grid,” Latvala said.
Power, like electricity. The kind just about everyone needs in their homes.
More than 6.5 million Floridians went without power after Hurricane Irma cut through the peninsula last week.
Latvala acknowledged he’s taken money from energy companies in the past, and in a state where the utilities wield immense power -- loaded with dozens of lobbyists and millions of dollars in campaign contributions -- he admitted it could “hurt” a little to cut off that support.
But Latvala is far from alone in questioning the power companies publicly after the hurricane. Many elected officials in Tampa Bay have said they intend to hold the utilities accountable and find improvements before the next storm. Latvala was one of several politicians who mentioned expanded undergrounding of power cables as a possible next step in an interview with the Times on Tuesday.
“We really need to start emphasizing putting more of our utilities underground and strengthening the grid,” he said.
As to legislation? “It’s a little too early to tell what has a realistic chance of passing,” Latvala said.