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PSC chairwoman says she is ‘fully committed’ to providing residents opportunities to participate in water rate discussions

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The chairwoman of the Public Service Commission said she is “fully committed” to providing Summertree residents the chance to continue to participate in discussions about rate discussions.

In a letter to Senate Majority Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Richard Corcoran on Friday, PSC Chairwoman Julie Brown said she appreciated lawmakers raising constituent concerns about whether they would have a chance to speak during upcoming proceedings about rates. The letter comes just one day after the two Pasco County lawmakers sent Brown a letter expressing concern that residents might not be able to testify during upcoming proceedings.

Brown said the commission “always welcomes timely public comment concerning matters that comes before it” and said she believes strongly that “hearing from customers is the best way to make an informed decision.”

Summertree residents have complained that they are being charged more than double than people living in nearby neighborhoods, according to a recent report from WFTS Tampa Bay.

The utility company is proposing consolidating its rates for all of its customers statewide to about $71 for water and sewer to pay for infrastructure improvements, according to the report. And that has residents worried their rate will continue to go up.

According to a letter sent to Brown earlier this week, residents have told Simpson and Corcoran that the “Public Service Commission is considering barring them from testifying at an upcoming proceeding.”

In her response to Simpson and Corcoran, Brown said the commission has held “an abundant amount of service hearings in order to solicit as much public comment from UIF’s customers.”

“To put this into perspective, in the case of UIF and its estimated 60,000 customers, the Commission held eight (8) service hearings throughout its service territory in Florida,” she wrote. “In comparison, in the most recent rate case for FPL and its estimated 4.8 million customers, the Commission held nine service (9) hearings throughout FPL’s service territory.”

Brown went on to say that under state law, anyone can address the commission at service hearings, but “in order to protect the due process rights of all parties, only parties of record may address the Commission during a formal evidentiary proceeding.” But Brown said given the “extraordinary nature” of the issue, she was committed to “providing for the continued participation of interested persons in our process.”

 

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