City of Belle Glade Opposes the “Energy Choice” Amendment
The amicus curiae is a group of small and rural local governments consisting of the City of Belle Glade, Village of Indiantown, the City of Chipley, and the City of Vernon (the “Small Local Governments”) and the Lake Okeechobee Regional Economic Alliance of Palm Beach County, Inc. (“LORE”). The Small Local Governments and LORE are located in rural areas of the state. We represent citizens of Florida who rely on electrical power, just like the other citizens of Florida, but whose location and income make them a less desirable customer for electrical power providers whose rates are not regulated by the State, but instead are driven purely by the desire to make the most profit.
The communities represented by the Small Local Governments will be disproportionately impacted by the proposed amendment, because we are located in areas that are less developed and less population-dense, providing less incentive for an unregulated purely profit-driven electrical provider to supply power. Additionally, our smaller and less developed communities rely significantly on taxes and fees provided by existing electrical utilities, and the proposed amendment jeopardizes many of these taxes and fees. The likely results of the passage of the proposed amendment, as detailed below, give rise to our interest in this case.
While the Small Local Governments and LORE agree that the ballot title and summary are misleading and the proposed amendment violates the single-subject rule as argued by the primary parties opposing the proposed amendment, we seek to inform the Court on issues unique to our communities.
The “Right to Competitive Energy Market for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities; Allowing Energy Choice” (the “Proposed Amendment”), if passed, would deregulate the market for Florida electrical power generation, transmission and sale. The Proposed Amendment mandates the creation of a competitive market for power, but the communities represented by the Small Local Governments and LORE would be harmed by that competitive market, because our communities are located in areas with smaller populations and limited commercial development. The Proposed Amendment does not include a provision for a provider of last resort, potentially leaving our communities, particularly those that are more remote or those with the lowest incomes, without any source of power. Unregulated profit-driven electrical providers would have little incentive to provide services to our communities. Those few electrical providers that provide service will have little, if any, competition, and will be able to charge substantially increased amounts to supply power to our citizens, many of whom are poorer and less able to afford the additional expense.
Read their full legal brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court here.