Power to the People
As two new PSC members change the tone, will Bush holdovers starting changing too?
In an interview, Edgar took exception to the idea that there is a “turn” in the PSC attitude toward consumers. “I think I am very consumer-friendly and consumer-oriented,” she said.
But in the past two years, power rates have gone up about 20%, driven largely by rising fuel prices but also by storm-repair charges. In 2005, consumer advocates cut a deal with FPL and Progress Energy to freeze basic rates until 2009, but annual “cost adjustments” have increased dramatically. A small commercial customer of Progress pays $929.87 a month vs. $768.97 in mid-2005 for 10,000 kilowatt-hours.
Florida’s PSC has been viewed by Wall Street as accommodating to utilities. A former commissioner says a financially strong utility will benefit consumers in the long run, “like an individual who has a favorable credit rating gets a better interest rate on a loan.” Able to finance expansion as the state grows, Florida utilities have also avoided blackouts, he noted.
In May, the bond-rating agency noted that recent PSC appointments have produced “some regulatory uncertainty.”
Some people hope it’s just the beginning.