Editor’s Note: I strongly encourage our readers to visit the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Coalition website (https://www.mepcoalition.org) for more information on the Coalition’s activities, how to support this important effort and to download the complete report.
Contributed by the MEP Coalition
“The Florida Public Service Commission, the State Legislature, the Attorney General and all those charged with the protection of consumers have failed to act to provide reasonable regulatory oversight and restrictions on the expansion of utility monopolies. This leaves consumers, rate payers, small businesses and local communities at risk while utilities leverage their monopoly status and use ratepayer funds to subsidize expansion into new unregulated industries.” – Florida’s Failure to Regulate St. Petersburg, Fla., A state-wide small business alliance called the MEP Coalition for Fair Competition released a report on June 5, 2019 entitled “Florida’s Failure to Regulate” which found that the state has failed to provide reasonable regulatory oversight and restrictions on the expansion of utility monopolies. This leaves consumers, rate payers, small businesses and local communities at risk while utilities leverage their monopoly status and use ratepayer funds to subsidize expansion into new unregulated industries.
Over the past twenty years, many utilities across the U.S. have attempted to leverage their monopoly power, access to customer data and ratepayer funded infrastructure to subsidize easy entry into electrical, heating, air conditioning, plumbing and other industries. In response, many states have enacted laws to regulate so-called Utility Affiliate Transactions, preventing regulated utilities from using ratepayer funded resources to subsidize nonregulated subsidiaries. By contrast, Florida has yet to implement even the most basic regulatory protections.
The MEP Coalition stated that this is likely due to the massive political spending, lobbying and donations by the utilities. In fact, Integrity Florida reported that Florida’s four largest energy companies contributed more than $43 million to state level candidates, political parties and political committees in the 2014 and 2016 election cycles.
The coalition’s review of 13 states chosen randomly illustrates the type of restrictions used across the country to prohibit misuse of ratepayer funds and prevent subsidization. These regulations address the sharing of customer data, joint marketing, sharing of personnel and corporate infrastructure and much more in order to shield ratepayers, local businesses and entire industries from insurmountable and unfair competition.
“This report demonstrates that Florida has fallen behind other states when it comes to regulating these utility monopolies,” said Skip Farinhas, President of the South Florida Air-conditioning Contractors Association (SFACA) which is a member of the coalition. “We can’t allow aggressive lobbying and political spending to prevent our elected officials from doing the right thing to protect consumers, ratepayers and small businesses.”
Get the “Florida’s Failure to Regulate” report at https://www.mepcoalition.org.
We are heating and air conditioning, electrical and plumbing service professionals from locally owned and operated small businesses as well as neighbors and members of your community who are concerned about Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) predatory practices. Specifically, FPL is using public resources to enter the HVAC market as FPL Energy Services. This subsidization of a private entity by a public utility will put many small companies out of business. We are not opposed to competition – just unfair competition by a ratepayer – funded monopoly. Together, we will fight FPL’s use of their name and logo, public resources and economies of scale to give them a competitive advantage in this market. For more information, please visit us at www.mepcoalition.org.