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Climate activists to protest PSC at meeting to interview prospects for the utility board

The normally staid meeting of the Public Service Nominating Council could get a bit lively on Thursday as a group of climate change activists, including a scientist who met with Gov. Rick Scott, stage a protest at the Miami International Airport to complain about the utility board's "cozy relationship with Florida's utility companies."

There are two vacancies on the five-member PSC and the legislatively-dominated nominating council has a history of picking candidates that are endorsed and backed by the state's largest utilities -- which are among the largest contributors to legislative campaigns and non-profit causes promoted by legislators.

The nominating council will interview 16 candidates on Thursday and offer up as many three nominees for each of the two seats on the commission. Gov. Rick Scott will choose from the list of nominees and in the past has re-appointed candidates backed by the state's power companies. 

Seeking a second term is Commissioner Julie Immanuel Brown, who will be among those interviewed on Thursday. A second position was opened when Commissioner Eduardo Balbis decided not to seek a second term. He was an occasional critic of the industry on a board that has a record of embracing much of the agenda of the state's largest electric utilities in the past four years. 

Also to be interviewed is Rep. Jimmy Patronis, a Republican from Panama City, who runs the popular Captain Anderson's restaurant which is owned by his family. Patronis lists no utility-related experience in his resume but is a favorite for the job because of his political connections. Patronis dropped out of the 2016 state Senate race to replace Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, leaving Gaetz's son, Matt Gaetz, the frontrunner in the race and many expect him to be named by Scott to the utility board in return for dropping out.

Here's the press release from Florida For All: 

To protest the Scott Administration & Public Service Commission’s cozy relationship with Florida’s utility companies, South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard, Climate Scientist Harold Wanless, and activists will hold a press conference Thursday at 11:00am, at the Miami International Airport Hotel, while the PSC holds its nominating meeting of new board members.

 Rick Scott, whose campaign committee has received more than $1 million from both FPL and Progress/Duke Energy, has final approval over the PSC appointments. Critics say Scott and the PSC have consistently favored utility companies at the expense of consumers and Florida’s sensitive ecosystem, which is highly vulnerable to climate change.

Particularly egregious is the nuclear recovery fee, which allows utilities to charge for construction of nuclear projects, even if no energy is ever produced. Critics say this is both unfair to ratepayers and crowds out renewable energy development. FPL customers may end up paying at least $16 million for FPL’s proposed expansion of Turkey Point, which will add two additional nuclear reactors and hundreds of miles of power lines that will tear through highly populated communities. In Central Florida, Duke Energy customers are on the hook for $3.2 billion in costs related to two nuclear projects that are not producing any energy. 

Dr Wanless, one of the climate scientists that Scott met with for 30 minutes last week, will reiterate the danger climate change poses to Florida and the Scott Administration's failure to it seriously. Case in point, FPL's plan to expand Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant, which does not adequately take into account climate change-related superstorms or rising sea levels.   

WHO: South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard, Harold R. Wanless, Ph.D., chairman and professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at University of Miami, and activists.

 WHAT: Press Conference to expose Rick Scott and PSC cozy relationship with utilities

 

WHEN: 11:00 am, Thursday, August 28th

 

WHERE: Miami International Airport Hotel Airport

               Airport Terminal, 2nd Floor, Concourse E

               NW 20th Street & LeJeune Road

  Meeting Room C & D on 7th Floor of Hotel

Comments

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ed jenkins

The citizens want any of these hooligans who try to disrupt this important business meeting arrested. They have no patience for unproductive members of society who try to distract from those doing serious work.

Redundant

Good luck challenging the most powerful combine in the state. The tides may rise and engulf us all but the 'powers that be' care not. Money and power are all that drive these mental midgets. They will use it for their own ends to subjugate the citizens and reap more power and wealth. Ask any of the past PSC members that have challenged proposed actions by the states utilities. Governor Crist put a moratorium on coal fired power plants. That is probably what put him out of favor with the GOP.

Keith Stegath

Gosh, the owner of a Captain Anderson's restaurant - how is he not qualified? Edwina, unless they don't want another woman, if you're breathing you're qualified?

Are you feeling the boundless growth and prosperity? Praise be to Rick and Chuck!

Are we having fun yet?

Bill Thompson

Just one more example of the scumbag Scott and his administration favoring big corporations and their large campaign contributions over the concerns of everyday Florida citizens. This most horrible man considers these large corporations as his constituents, not the everyday Floridian.

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