Tuesday, August 17, 2010

PSC members continue sparring despite new blood

Two outgoing members of the Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday accused the remaining PSC veteran of stirring up trouble as two new commissioners watched in silence.

Commission Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano and Commissioner Nathan A. Skop were passed over for reappointment in July as some members of the PSC Nominating Council cited discord on the panel. On Tuesday, the PSC voted to delay action on a request by Florida Power & Light Co. to reconsider the company's rate hike request that was first rejected months ago. But the PSC did vote 2-1 to reject one issue that was part of the request: How much the company has to pay back customers for overestimating fuel costs.

Commissioner Lisa Edgar at one point took the unusual step during the hearing of refusing to accept the gavel from Skop as he sought to second a motion by Argenziano to deny the repayment issue. Skop took a shot at Edgar by saying her refusal reflected the commission's problems as discussed by the PSC Nominating Council.

Edgar said she received a notice from the chairman that action was being delayed. She also said Skop had raised some issues that needed further consideration. Edgar eventually took the gavel and ran the meeting until the FP&L matter was resolved, and she cast the only vote against the motion.

Later, during an internal affairs meeting, Edgar said she now understood that deferral notices from the chairman should be considered "meaningless" if the matters still could be voted on. That prompted an eight-minute rebuttal from Argenziano and Skop as Edgar and new commissioners Art Graham and Ronald Brisé listened.

"It's nothing more than a ruse to create problems at the PSC," said Argenziano, who joined the meeting by telephone. "If that's what commissioner Edgar wants to do, that's fine -- but I'm not going to sit back and be quiet."

Skop brought up past memos written by Edgar and her refusal that morning to accept the gavel. "The pettiness here has to stop," Skop said. "I'm sorry to my new commissioners this has degraded into what it was."

Edgar said after the meeting she was simply questioning the procedure for voting on the FP&L matter earlier in the day. "The ruse was the chairman's office notifying me that the item would be deferred and not voted on, then calling for a vote in front of the camera," Edgar said.

Earlier in the day, Brisé publicly took the oath of office as commissioner although both he and Graham were officially sworn in more than two weeks ago. The commission also agreed to a $25 million cash refund to customers of Tampa Electric Co.'s retail customers. The PSC also agreed to increase cash rebates for customers of the state's seven investor-owned natural gas utilities.

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting brucebritchie@gmail.com.)

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