Proposed ballot measure would limit the role of Florida utilities in power business
By JIM SAUNDERS News Service of Florida
June 24, 2019
State leaders and powerful business groups are trying to kill a proposed constitutional amendment that would lead to major changes in the way Floridians get electricity.
Opponents, including Attorney General Ashley Moody, legislative leaders, business groups and utilities, filed 13 briefs late last week at the Florida Supreme Court arguing that the proposal should be blocked from going on the November 2020 ballot.
The briefs were the latest batch of arguments about the proposal, which would uproot the long-established regulatory structure that leads to residents and businesses in much of the state receiving electricity from four utilities: Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Co. and Gulf Power.
The proposal, backed by a political committee known as Citizens for Energy Choices, calls for creating “competitive” electricity markets in which customers would have the right to choose electricity providers or to produce their own power. Supporters, including companies that want to supply electricity in Florida, point to a similar structure that Texas has used for nearly two decades.
But the opponents contend that the measure should never reach the ballot because it violates legal standards for citizens’ initiatives, such as tying together multiple subjects in a proposed constitutional amendment. A brief filed Friday by the Senate alleged that the initiative includes a “Frankenstein’s Monster of policies.”
“Contrary to the image of regular citizens trying to change the way they are governed, this is a well-heeled special interest group trying to advance a policy change that would benefit their industry,” the Senate brief said. “The (Supreme) Court should be skeptical of commercial interests attempting to use the citizen initiative process to benefit themselves.”