Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017

CONTACT:  Dave Bruns, 850.577.5161

Tallahassee, Fla. — AARP Florida, with 2.8 million members in the Sunshine State, has asked the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) to place a proposed constitutional ban on utility-company advance cost recovery initiatives before Florida voters in the 2018 election.

Once every 20 years, the CRC is allowed to place proposed constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot for voters’ consideration. Now, AARP is calling upon Floridians to join the fight against unfair, unjust and unreasonable utility rate making polices by supporting Public Proposal 700670, which is now before the CRC.

Text of proposed constitutional amendment

Under current Florida law, utility companies routinely ask the Florida Public Service Commission to raise customers’ rates to finance proposed new power plants or even out-of-state energy exploration projects. However, after ratepayers have been charged for costs of projects in advance, power companies sometimes decide not to proceed –and the power companies and their shareholders keep the money ratepayers have forked over.

Florida ratepayers already have paid more than $1 billion for nuclear power-plant projects that have been abandoned or will never be built. This is an outrage – but under Florida law, it’s allowed.

If adopted and approved by Florida voters, this proposal would prohibit a Florida utility company from charging ratepayers the upfront costs for any plant or exploratory project before the plant or project is fully operational and the ratepayer receives the service from the plant or project for which the ratepayer subscribes. Shareholders and the utility company would assume the risks.

“Too often, efforts to change this in the Florida Legislature fall on deaf ears,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP’s Florida state director. “The utility companies employ scores of high-priced lobbyists and donate (your money) extensively to political campaigns to protect their bottom line.”

“But what if, for once, the voice of the people was heard over the voice of the donors and lobbyists?” Johnson asked. “Now is our chance.”

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