The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) is an arm of the legislative branch of government that performs its duties independently. § 350.001, Fla. Stat. (2018). The PSC is the agency responsible for regulating the rates and service of Florida’s investor-owned electric utilities, and to a lesser extent regulating Florida’s municipal electric utilities and rural electric cooperatives. Ch. 366, Fla. Stat. (2018). By this Brief in Opposition to the Initiative Petition, the PSC is offering this Court the wealth of knowledge and experience in electric utility regulation and Florida’s energy policy that it has amassed through sixty-eight years of regulating Florida’s investor-owned electric utilities.
The Court should prevent the proposed amendment from being placed on the ballot for two reasons: the ballot title and summary do not accurately convey the true effects of the amendment, and the amendment addresses several disparate subjects.
The ballot title and summary fail to provide the voter with fair notice of the decision the voter must make. While the ballot title and summary purport to inform the voter of their “Right to a Competitive Energy Market” and “Allowing for Energy Choice,” it is what they do not tell the voter that make them defective. The ballot title and summary fail to inform the voter of the sweeping changes the voter will be making to Florida’s current utility regulation policy and the far reaching ramifications that voting for the amendment will have on the State. Voters are not told about the adverse effects voting for the amendment may have on electric reliability, including the restoration of power after devastating storms, and adequacy of reserves. Nor are voters told that customers who have solar panels on their homes may lose their ability to net meter and may be subject to new regulations under the proposed amendment.
The ballot title and summary also fail to inform the voter that nearly three-quarters of Florida’s existing electricity service customers will no longer be able to participate in the establishment of their electric rates, including the right to appeal ratemaking decisions to this Court, and that these customers will be giving up their current right to electric service. The ballot title and summary mislead the voter by implying that investor-owned utility customers will still have all the consumer protections they have under current law, when, in fact, the proposed amendment will strip away existing consumer protections. Also absent from the ballot title and summary is any notification to voters that consumers may be required to pay amounts in addition to their electric rates to reimburse investor-owned utilities for any stranded investments.
The proposed amendment itself is invalid because it violates the singlesubject rule. First, the sweeping nature of the proposed amendment impermissibly enfolds disparate subjects—electricity price regulation, reliability of the electricity supply, grid adequacy, capacity reserves, generation and fuel diversity, obligations to serve, stranded investments, and market restructuring—under the cloak of a broad generality. Second, the proposed amendment alters the function of multiple branches of government, which will cause precipitous and cataclysmic changes to how government entities are currently functioning.
Read their full legal brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court here.