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Atwater: PSC reform is probably dead, but so may be the renewable energy bill

It's win one and lose one for Florida's electric utilities. Senate President Jeff Atwater said the attempts to reach agreement on how to fix the troubles at the Public Service Commission probably can't be reconciled with one day left.

PSC reform has been one of the bills the utilities wanted to kill, along with the confirmations of the two PSC commissioners.

But also likely dead is a priority for the utility companies -- a bill to jump start renewable energy in the state by allowing the state's electric companies to build their own solar farms. The bill has been a hard-fought fight that has separated Florida Power & Light from the other investor owned utilities -- Progress Energy, Tampa Electric and Gulf Power -- and pitted the biomass companies against the solar manufacturers and FPL.

On PSC reform, the utility companies didn't like the fix proposed by the Senate, which wanted to force all private communications between the utilities and regulators onto the record, or ban them. The House tried another approach -- a focus on a sweeping overhaul which the governor vowed to veto.

The Senate has a list of four fixes it wants to make to the watered-down House PSC bill but the House won't take it, Atwater said.

"We put that as a high priority, so high that we passed it the very first day of session and here we are the night before finishing and it looks like it may not be completed,'' he said.

On renewables legislation, Atwater said he's still hopeful "but there is so many different players that are trying to -- regrettably -- weigh in. We had biomass, good solar that would have been good, putting some standards in that would have been good but I don't think I can make a prediction."

Atwater received this letter from PSC Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano about the renewable energy bill. She notes that the PSC's experts were never consulted by the House and the bill would allow utilities to earn higher profits and charges customers more than any other form Here's Argenziano's letter:

Download Ltr to atwater re house bill[1]