Dwight Dudley has PSC amendments lined up for proposed subcommittee bill

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Rep. Dwight Dudley has filed amendments to a proposed subcommittee bill being heard today that involving the Public Service Commission including an amendment to require the election of PSC members.

The House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee today will consider PCB EUS 15-01 appears to be a response to SB 298, a PSC reform bill filed by Sen. Jack Latvala, a St. Petersburg Republican.

Dudley, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, is sponsor of HB 399, which requires PSC members to be elected. The bill also prohibits a utility from recovering expenses associated with oil drilling.

During a press conference earlier this month, Dudley said pointed out that other bills filed during the session would repeal the 2006 law that allows utilities to charge for nuclear plants that may never be built. Dudley’s bill hasn’t been heard in committees and neither have the bills repealing nuclear cost recovery.

“Sadly it doesn’t sound like those issues are going to be addressed (this session),” he said.

“It’s all going to be about the warts and freckles” Dudley said. “It’s sort of where you have arterial bleeding, eyewash is being given. It may be a tip of the hat to consumers, but it’s not the substantive real issues and change that we need to protect consumers and do right by them.”

In addition to the amendment requiring election of PSC members, another Dudley amendment to the proposed committee bill would prohibit the PSC from allowing utilities ratepayer funding for oil and gas production.

Dudley said any company can buy natural gas on the mercantile exchange and that electricity customers should not be burdened with the cost of exploration.

The PSC in December approved Florida Power & Light Co.’s request to recover from customers a $191 million investment in natural gas drilling projects in southeastern Oklahoma. FPL says the investment provides a net savings to customers of $52 million.

There are differences between the Latvala bill and the proposed subcommittee bill including a requirement in the Senate bill that the Office of Public Council be a party in a rate-setting stipulation agreement. That provision is lacking in the House bill.

The proposed subcommittee bill also limits PSC members to three four-year terms compared to Latvala’s bill, which provides for two four-year terms.

Bruce Ritchie (@bruceritchie) covers environment, energy and growth management in Tallahassee.