Sen. Mike Fasano says he will ask Gov. Charlie Crist to scratch former Public Service Commission Executive Director Mary Bane from the list of candidates being considered for two vacant spots on the panel that regulates utilities.
Fasano, R-New Port Richey, introduced SB 1034, a PSC reform bill that was intended to address ethics controversies at the agency in 2009 about inappropriate contact between utility representatives and agency staff. The bill received Senate approval but died when House and Senate couldn't agree on a version before the session ended.
Bane was PSC's executive director from 2002 to 2009 when she retired after 23 years with the agency. Bane also was among eight names recommended last week by the PSC Nominating Council for two vacant seats on the commission. Fasano, who has criticized the agency for being under the influence of utilities, noted that Bane was in charge when there were communications between agency staff and Florida Power & Light Co. representatives while the utility's rate increase was pending.
A Miami Herald editorial on Tuesday made a similar case against Bane, calling her record at the agency "uneven at best" and adding that it was "truly dismal" on renewable energy issues.
Fasano said he is drafting a letter to send to Crist asking him not to appoint Bane. "She is part of the problem that has existed at the Public Service Commission for years," Fasano said. "We certainly don't want to add to that problem by putting her on the Public Service Commission."
In response, Bane told the Florida Tribune she doesn't know what basis Fasano would have for writing a letter. She said the agency took action to stop text messaging with FP&L and to discipline a staff member who resigned before action could be taken. The agency controversies, she said, were not a factor in her retirement.
"I believe I dealt expeditiously with that within the limitations imposed on my authority," Bane said. She also said she wants to make renewable energy a priority but said the difficulty is balancing the cost for ratepayers during a recession.
Gov. Charlie Crist has until July 15 to fill the vacant PSC seats, which pay $133,036 per year.
(Story provided by The Florida Tribune. PSC photo of Mary Bane. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.)