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Florida large power users playing games want out of energy fees

Roger Caldwell

Roger Caldwell

Florida large power users playing games want out of energy fees

By Roger Caldwell

      Regulations in Florida are nasty words because the large business conglomerates are always looking for ways to increase their bottom line. Whenever large companies are forced to comply with regulation from the state or federal government, they end up losing a portion of their profits. Therefore, they think of ingenious ways of not paying their bills.

In the last quarter, Wal-Mart made a three billion dollar worldwide profit, but they are leading the charge in Florida to opt out of paying energy fees. There is a group representing other large users of electricity such as grocery store chains, chemical, pulp, paper, cement and phosphate plants who also want out.

These large conglomerates have been paying into a conservation program called the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA) since 1981.

These large companies are claiming that they can do a better job of saving energy by running their own conservation programs. So now they want the residents, the state, and the federal government to believe that their primary focus will be on conservation.

There is no way that the large conglomerates’ argument makes any sense, but the Florida Public Service Commission must make a decision on their request. The state’s most influential energy providers told the Florida Public Service Commission that such a proposal would shift costs to small businesses and residential customers. Some of the present energy bills that residential customers are paying are already high and not fair.

Many Floridians have no idea that these large companies and large energy users are asking for rate reductions and think they deserve preferential treatment. In 2014, large power users received $58 million in credits on their bills, and in 2015 they want to opt out of paying a portion of their bill.

The Florida Service Commission says it will make a decision in early fall, and I would not be surprised if the large companies get what they are asking for. Governor Scott has always been friends with the larger businesses in the state, and he may be working behind closed doors to get the initiative passed. It would be phenomenal for Governor Scott to stand up for small businesses and residential customers, but in all probably, he will not say anything publicly.

At stake are millions of dollars in fees the large power consumers pay to Florida Power & Light Company, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Company, Gulf Power Company and Florida Public Utilities Company. With residential customers and small businesses struggling to pay their energy bills, it would be unfair to keep raising their bills, and give the large users a free ride.

Everyone in the state would like to opt out of paying their electricity bill, but the power companies, such Florida Power & Light Co. and Duke Energy, would go bankrupt. Renae Denton, FPL senior manager, called the opt-out proposal self-serving and discriminatory because it would benefit only a select group. All customers should pay the fees because all benefit, she said.

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