1. Business

Peoples Gas fined $1 million over faulty inspections; customers to get $2 million in credits

Published May 6, 2016

TAMPA — State regulators Thursday approved a settlement that fines Peoples Gas $1 million and provides $2 million in customer credits for failures in its inspection compliance that included falsified leak-inspection reports.

The Florida Public Service Commission voted unanimously to approve the settlement among Peoples, the Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumer interests, and the agency.

"We have taken this issue very seriously," said Gordon Gillette, Peoples Gas president. "And we've made significant improvements as a result."

The customer credit will occur in 2017 and will amount to 15 cents a month for average residential customers, or $1.80 for the year, according to parent company TECO Energy.

PSC staff first noted a problem with Peoples record keeping in 2013. The company then investigated and discovered the falsified inspection reports in the Ocala area during 2014.

Peoples Gas said it took corrective actions, including disciplining several employees and conducted an investigation of its entire system with external auditors to ensure compliance with state regulations.

In December, Gillette said he was "disappointed" because the problems did not reflect "the true commitment to safety and integrity that Peoples Gas maintains every day."

The Office of Public Counsel had asked the PSC on Dec. 7 to consider fining Peoples Gas for the problems.

The $1 million fine will be paid by shareholders, TECO Energy officials said, and will go into Florida's general revenue fund. Though customers are receiving a bill credit next year, the case does not appear to have involved allegations of overbilling.

Peoples Gas serves 365,000 customers in Florida, including portions of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Contact William R. Levesque at Follow @Times_Levesque.


  1. Port Tampa Bay president and CEO Paul Anderson. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times (2017)]
    Port commissioners approved the raise after a year with milestone achievements on several fronts.
  2. A rendering of the proposed Edge Collective in St. Petersburg's Edge District. Storyn Studio for Architecture
    The "Hall on Central'' will be managed by Tampa’s Hall on Franklin team.
  3. Mango Plaza in Seffner has sold for $12.49 million. The plaza is anchored by a Publix and Walmart, making it attractive to a Baltimore investment firm. (Continental Realty Corporation)
    Mango Plaza’s new owners are based out of Baltimore.
  4. The Southernmost Point marker in Key West. CAROL TEDESCO  |  AP
    The travel website put the Florida Keys on its list of places not to visit.
  5. Philanthropist David Straz Jr. and his wife Catherine celebrate in March after he advanced into the Tampa mayoral run-off election. Mr. Straz has died at the age of 77. TAILYR IRVINE  |  Times
    The former mayoral candidate who lost to Tampa Mayor Jane Castor earlier this year, died Monday while on a fishing trip in Homosassa. His name, and legacy, are integral to Tampa.
  6. The Chick-fil-A on Dale Mabry in South Tampa. The company announced Monday it will no longer donate to The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
    The groups have faced criticism for their opposition to same-sex marriage.
  7. Candice Anderson, left, and Alsace Walentine, co-owners of Tombolo Books, rearrange books as attendees of the Times Festival of Reading leave the University Student Center behind them. [Jack Evans | Times]
    The shop plans to open next to Black Crow on First Ave. S before the new year.
  8. An opened capsule containing Kratom. The Clearwater City Council was confronted by dozens of concerned citizens at a recent meeting who urged them not to ban the herbal supplement. Times
    “Our recommendation right now is, we don’t think there’s a need to regulate it.”
  9. BayCare Health Systems now plans to build a $200 million, 60-bed hospital along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The company previously planned to build on 111 acres further north adjacent to Interstate 75 and an interchange to built at Overpass Road. Shown his the main entrance to BayCare's St. Joseph's Hospital North on Van Dyke Road in Lutz. Times
    BayCare plans a $200 million, 60-bed hospital on land it owns along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard
  10. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.