Fellow Floridians – This year was a busy one for us when it came to utilities advocacy. We had some hard-fought battles – some we won, some we lost.
Here’s a recap of our 2017 utilities activities:
- We successfully lobbied against SB 1238/HB 1043, which would have allowed investor-owned utilities (Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, TECO & Gulf Power) to charge ratepayers millions in advance fees to frack for natural gas out of state. For Florida consumers who get their electrical power from investor-owned utilities, this saved an estimated $3.75 billion to $22.5 billion over the next five to 30 years. A majority of this victory was due to the onslaught of calls made and emails and letters sent by you to state legislators. You heard our SOS loud and clear and delivered. Thank you!
- We filed a proposed amendment to the state constitution (via the Constitution Revision Commission) to ban the practice of nuclear cost recovery and prohibit any form of advance cost recovery. The revision commission did not accept our proposal.
- We rallied our panhandle advocates to show up at Gulf Power hearings to fight back against an already state high monthly fixed charge increase (of $29 more a month) that would have hurt seniors on fixed-incomes. Gulf Power stripped the increase from its proposal. Thank you to our volunteer advocates!
- We delivered testimony to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to ask them to deny a request made by FPL that would allow them to charge their ratepayers $200 million to clean up their mess at Turkey Point. This request was made on the heels of a historic $1.32 billion base-rate increase FPL received in 2016. We feel that FPL made the mess, the burden to clean it up shouldn’t be on its ratepayers, especially since the final cost of clean up is unknown. The PSC approved FPL’s request.
What are we going to do in 2018? We’re glad you asked:
- We will put all candidates on notice that we intend to make utilities a central campaign issue. We will press gubernatorial candidates from all parties to declare where they stand on backing consumers against state-mandated utility monopolies. We will let you know their answers.
- We’re not giving up on repealing the nuclear cost recovery statute and permanently banning advance cost recovery. We’re going to work with legislators to craft language to get this done. We will continue to walk the halls of the capitol advocating state legislators to ditch this unfair practice of allowing investor-owned utilities to raise rates in order to charge in advance for projects that may or may not happen. Like you, we are tired of paying for services we’re never going to get.
- We will take an active role in ensuring that Florida utilities adequately prepare for the 2018 hurricane season and beyond. We will make sure your monthly storm hardening fees are spent where it matters, protecting the grid and reinforcing critical electrical infrastructure so power can come back online faster after a storm.
- We’re going to continue to pressure the PSC when any unreasonable rate increase is proposed. We will fight for seniors on fixed-incomes who cannot keep up with yearly rate increases.
- We are going to continue to reach out to you, our members and advocates, to share your voice and spread the word. Every phone call, email and letter helps! We appreciate all that you do.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Twitter. During the legislative session we post weekly updates about important bills we’re monitoring and ask our members to call legislators.
Thank you for your continued interest and all my best for a prosperous 2018. Sincerely,
AARP Florida State Director