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Second PSC commissioner punishes aide for messages

Public Service Commissioner Lisa Edgar has put her chief advisor, Roberta Bass, on administrative leave "pending further review,'' said PSC spokeswoman Cindy Muir. Bass gave the private Blackberry code for instant messaging from Edgar's phone to a Florida Power & Light executive, potentially enabling the company to bypass the state email system and communicate directly to Edgar without a record trail 

Edgar said she did not recall receiving any messages from FPL attorney Natalie Smith, who received the code. Emails obtained by the Herald/Times show that Bass provided her code, known as the Personal Idenfiication Number, to Smith on more than one occassion.

After the Herald/Times reported the story, PSC Commissioner Nancy Argenziano asked her staff aide, Larry Harris, if he has provided Smith with his PIN number. When he admitted he had, but said he didn't recall using the numbrer, she accepted his resignation and he is now seeking reassignment within the PSC.

Edgar sent a note to PSC executive director ordering the action on Monday, Muir said. Muir, as well as the staff aide to Commissioner Chairman Matthew Carter also provided their PINs numbers to Smith, according to the emails.

The PSC today began nuclear cost recovery hearings on whether or not to allow the state's two largest power companies to raise rates on customers to pay up front for the construction of new nuclear power plants. FPL wants to add 67 cents a month to the bill of a typical customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours.Progress Energy proposes adding $2.38 for 1000 kilowatt hours.