Point of View: Electricity deregulation would hurt Florida’s families and economy
If advocates of a proposed ballot petition have their way, Florida would be the first state in two decades to deregulate its electricity market. Choice, these supporters claim, would spur lower electric prices and better service. Actual data and experience suggest otherwise.
The promise of bargain electric bills and better service hasn’t occurred anywhere — not in California, Virginia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut or Texas, to name a few of the states where the deregulation experiment was implemented and failed. It won’t succeed in Florida either.
Yet, a political action committee called “Citizens for Energy Choices” wants to change the Florida Constitution in 2020 to create new wholesale and retail electricity markets that would let customers choose their electricity providers and limit already established investor-owned utilities, like Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy and Gulf Power, operating transmission lines and distribution systems.
It sounds good. However, if it’s too good to be true, it’s likely to be false.
Choice and competition don’t work in the electric power industry the way they do with automobile dealerships, brand-name stores and fast-food restaurants. A regulated utility market provides the oversight necessary to keep electric prices low, while also increasing investments in infrastructure and clean, renewable energies. In states that have “deregulated” their market, prices went up, fraud increased, and investments in infrastructure and renewable energy went down.
Florida has avoided problems thanks to its regulated market, which has kept power prices below the national average, while increasing reliability. The current system has worked well for families and businesses. There’s no valid reason to change it.
The hue and cry to bring “choice” and “competition” to Florida’s electric utilities will grow louder, and the appeals will sound tempting. Don’t be fooled. Reject the false promises of electricity deregulation.
BY: JOSEPH GIBBONS, WELLINGTON
Editor’s note: Gibbons, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, is CEO and president of the Gibbons Consulting Group and board member of Floridians for Affordable Reliable Energy.