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At the PSC, it's Skop versus FPL

After making a surprise request late Tuesday to have Florida Power & Light CEO Armando Oliveraappear before the PSC to answer why the company supplied inaccurate and out-dated information to the commission on its nuclear projects last year, Commissioner Nathan Skop was expecting an answer Wednesday.

Instead, he got a lecture. FPL managing attorney Bryan S. Anderson called it a "highly irregular request. It has no legal basis and would provide a very poor precedent with the commission.'' He said that the commission had access to the report two months ago and Skop never raised the issue before.

Then, in what could have become a show of FPL's force over Skop, he said that the company would take the advice of the full panel and consider whether to bring Olivera before the commission or not.

Anderson said that the request was unfair to FPL, didn't give them fair warning and the questions would be irrelevant if the PSC approves FPL's request to delay a hearing on the reasonableness of their request for $31 million increase in customer rates until next year -- when Skop and PSC Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano are off the panel. FPL wants the PSC to approve the request and debate its merits later.

What Anderson didn't say is this: the newly appointed commissioners Ron Brise and Art Graham are in a bind. They know that the governor's two previous appointees were rejected by the Senate and opposed by FPL after rejecting the company's rate increase request. Do they risk countering FPL on a vote over whether to demand the company's CEO testify? Between now and and the legislative session next spring, overshadowing everything they do is the question of whether they risk the same fate as their predecessors David Klement and Benjamin "Steve" Stevens if they don't go along. 

Skop thanked Anderson and said, "I take extreme exception to your comments." He called his request "a simple request...they're not meant to be inflammatory." He said that he would have expected FPL would have willingly complied. "At the end of the day, leadership is set by example and accountability starts at the top of any organization."

Argenziano asked Skop if the wanted to pursue a vote of the full commission. He deferred to her and she said she wanted to move on. The hearing on Progress Energy resumed.

An hour later, Skop called on PSC audit staff to check Anderson's fact. They confirmed that neither Skop, nor any of the commissioners, were allowed access to the confidential investigation that showed FPL has supplied the PSC with inaccurate information until late last week. Argenziano said that if Anderson knew this and failed to tell the truth,  "it sends a very, very loud message to me and may answer a lot of things I've seen here."

Anderson was not under oath but, Argenziano conceded, maybe he didn't know the audit process, she said.