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Fasano to PSC chair: Suspend utility rate hearings

Sen. Mike Fasano, outspoken in recent weeks about the PSC uproar over lobbyists at utility execs' houses and PSC staffers exchanging Blackberry PIN numbers, just sent a letter to PSC chair Matt Carter asking that hearings for proposed rate hikes for FPL and Progress be "suspended immediately." Fasano, R-New Port Richey, says the PSC should not be deciding on the utilities' requested rate hikes until investigations into the recent controversy are complete.

Read it here:

September 11, 2009
The Honorable Matthew Carter
Florida Public Service Commission
2540 Shumard Oak Boulevard
Tallahassee, FL  32399-0850

Dear Chairman Carter:
In the face of the serious controversy swirling around the Florida Public Service Commission I am requesting that the hearings regarding the Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy Florida rate cases be suspended immediately.   Until the various investigations which are underway are complete, and the Senate confirms or rejects whomever the governor appoints to fill the two upcoming commission seats, any further work on these cases should be postponed indefinitely. 
The integrity of the Commission has been brought into question due to the recent resignation of the PSC’s lobbyist, the firing of a commission aide and the placement of two others on leave due to the question of ex parte communications, as well as sharing of Blackberry PINs, with utility executives of the two companies seeking the rate increases.  With the possibility of the Florida Senate Ethics & Elections Committee holding a hearing to look into the serious allegations regarding the operation of the PSC, any decision made while under the cloud of controversy would forever plague all parties in the case.
I do not make this request lightly.  The PSC has within its power the ability to impact millions of Floridians who receive utility service from these two companies.  The utilities themselves will forever have their operations impacted by any action taken by the PSC at this time.  As the custodian of the public’s trust the PSC must make decisions without taint of scandal or misconduct.  At some future time, when all investigations are finalized and appropriate actions are taken, would be the prudent moment to continue the rate cases.
The customers whom you serve need to have the confidence that all decisions made will be in their best interests.  The utility companies will still be here when the investigations are closed and the findings are released.  They may not be happy with this delay but they can continue to operate until the work of law enforcement and other bodies is complete.  The customers surely cannot afford the potential of increased rates that may or may not be imposed upon them if those decisions are made under the shroud of suspicion that currently exists.
I would greatly appreciate your response to this request.  I believe that it would best serve Floridians to know that, when this all ends,  their chief regulatory agency has been given, hopefully, a clean bill of health.

Yours truly,

Mike Fasano
State Senator, District 11

 Cc: The Honorable Charlie Crist
    The Honorable Jeff Atwater
    The Honorable Larry Cretul