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Jack Latvala wants answers after Tallahassee’s Hermine experience

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State Sen. Jack Latvala on Tuesday said he is considering calling for legislative action next session to address the City of Tallahassee’s response to Hurricane Hermine.

Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, is slated to be the next chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Specifically, he said he questions whether community-based power operations — such as City of Tallahassee Utilities — are positioned as well as they could be to recover after major storms.

Hermine, a Category 1 hurricane at landfall, knocked out electric service Thursday night to hundreds of thousands across north Florida, including nearly 68,000 in Tallahassee alone.

As of Tuesday morning, local officials said 14,000-16,000 remain without power.

“In fact, there are several issues that have come to my attention with regard to municipal power agencies,” Latvala said in a text, without elaborating. “Their members’ ability to repair their utilities after a storm is only one part of it.”

Barry Moline, executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association, could not be immediately reached for comment. A message was left for city spokeswoman Alison Faris.

He added: “The citizens in Vero Beach have voted twice to get out of the electric business as a city but have been stymied by a contract that appears to have no end.”

Vero Beach, which also runs a municipal utility, has flirted in recent years with selling its electric system to Florida Power & Light, an investor-owned utility.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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