1. Business

Walmart seeks to opt out of state energy conservation costs

Published Jul. 22, 2015

TAMPA — A Floridian who spends a miserly $100 a month on electricity is essentially treated the same as a mega-corporation whose utility bill is $1 million when it comes to the cost of energy efficiency.

They both pay a proportional share of the cost of their utility's energy-conservation programs.

But the Florida Public Service Commission is scheduled to open a hearing today on a proposal by Walmart and a group of big commercial energy users seeking to opt out of mandatory payments to fund conservation programs offered by the state's investor-owned utilities.

Walmart argues that big commercial electricity users that already take significant measures to institute their own conservation and energy-efficiency programs shouldn't have to foot the bill on utility programs they are not using.

The proposal is opposed by utilities, including Tampa Electric and Duke Energy Florida, which say big companies still benefit from utility conservation programs even if they do not participate since they lower electric demand for all and lower costs.

It isn't clear how much the proposal would save Walmart, which did not return a message seeking comment.

The PSC is unlikely to decide the issue immediately.

Utilities all offer a wide variety of programs to promote energy conservation, from rebates for installing energy-efficient central air conditioning to sharing the costs for attic insulation. Utilities are allowed to recoup those costs through charges to all customers, whether they participate in a program or not.

Duke residential customers, for example, pay $2.70 per 1,000 kilowatt hours.

"Large, energy-intensive customers already have strong incentives to invest in their own energy-efficiency measures," said the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, a group of large energy users that is making the proposal with Walmart.

The group said forcing companies to finance utility programs they do not use is unfair and "forces them to subsidize their competitors" who may not be as energy efficient.

Terry Deason, a TECO energy consultant, said in a PSC filing that the proposal was unfair to residential customers who will not have the luxury of opting out of payments.

"They conveniently ignore that residential customers also take conservation measures which are in their best economic interests," he said. "These and other such measures which are routinely pursued by residential customers are also beneficial.


  1. Although people with insurance pay nothing when they get their flu shot, many don’t realize that their insurers foot the bill — and that those companies will recoup their costs eventually.
    Federal law requires health insurers to cover the vaccines at no charge to patients, but the companies eventually recoup the cost through higher premiums.
  2. The Overstreet house at 1018 S. Frankland Rd. is seen in this Dec. 2018 photo from Google Earth. Google Earth
    The family says the house took two years too long to build and claims the contractor subbed high-end parts for low-quality materials.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.”