In an attempt to take the long view of utility regulation, the House Energy and Utility Policy Committee released draft legislation Tuesday that completely revamps Florida's Public Service Commission by removing the technical staff from the commission and places them into an independent office of the Legislature.
In addition to creating the Office of Regulatory Staff -- an entity that would be housed in the Legislature like the Office of Public Counsel -- the 72-page bill increases the qualifications of future commissioners and attempts to force the commission to act more like judges instead of policy makers.
The proposal is modeled after the utility regulatory board in South Carolina and was designed to create "the most efficient regulatory environment to bring the most reliable and affordable energy costs to our consumers,'' said Rep. Stephen Precourt, chairman of the committee.
He said his staff has spent months studying systems in other states and trying to come up with a plan that restructures the commission to make it better suited to deal with the complex issues of energy governance.
"This structure has been set up since the 70s for something that wasn’t anywhere near as sophisticated as the arrangement that we have now,'' he said. "We decided there were structural problems at the PSC in addition to those that were more related to the people that you have there.''