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Home Page > About the Florida Public Service Commission > Commissioners > Commissioner Brisé Newsletter Archives > June 2012 Chairman's Newsletter

Chairman Brise
FLORIDA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
Commission Update

JUNE 2012

Ronald A. Brisé
Chairman, FPSC
Customer Input Integral to PSC Ratemaking Process

This spring Florida Public Service Commissioners (PSC) traveled the state to hear from local customers of an investor-owned electric utility that is requesting a rate increase. Customer comments are an integral component of the PSC’s rate case procedures. By presenting testimony about a utility’s proposed rate increase and its service quality at PSC customer service hearings, customers provide valuable input for our decision-making process.

During the customer hearings, we heard from hundreds of consumers whose testimony touched on several issues. Testimony addressed quality of service, billing, customer service, and the timing of the requested rate increase. Many customers highlighted the economic downturn of the past several years and compared that against the utility’s planned capital expenditures. These concerns are factors that must be weighed in rendering our decision.


According to the Edison Electric Institute, utility capital expenditures are expected to reach $82 billion in 2012. Utilities’ current expenditures include generation additions, investments to meet environmental requirements, replacing aging infrastructure, and smart grid investments.


While company investments are necessary to keep the lights on and the water running, each state’s public service commission is charged with making sure utility costs are prudent before deciding on any proposed increases. Florida statutes protect customers by requiring that the rates of regulated utility companies be fair, just, and reasonable; that the service they provide be safe, adequate, and reliable; and that those utilities have the opportunity to generate revenues to keep them operational.

In recent months, Florida’s PSC has decided on several rate case requests for both water and electric utilities. In these cases, Florida law allowed the PSC to protect customers by rejecting and/or reducing tens of millions of dollars in requested rate relief while also making sure the utilities could operate efficiently. This sitting Commission has a record and clear commitment of balancing the interests of ratepayers and utilities under Florida statutes.

The Ratemaking Process
When a utility company files a rate increase application with the PSC, it must detail the need for the requested increase. Its petition must be accompanied by minimum filing requirements (MFRs), which are schedules and reports containing the operational, financial, economic, and rate information needed by PSC staff to evaluate the company’s revenue increase request, rate structure, and quality of service.

The utility also forecasts the money needed to cover next year’s expenses. This filing includes the company’s proposed return on its assets -- such as power plants, electric lines, or gas mains -- which are used to pay interest on borrowed money and to compensate investors. Each of these costs are scrutinized by the PSC to ensure that only prudently incurred expenses are passed on to ratepayers. Costs found to be imprudent are not borne by the customers, they are absorbed by the utility.

As mentioned previously, public comment is essential to the ratemaking process. The PSC urges consumers to get involved because the amount of customer interest indicates the degree of concern or support. Even if you are unsure about testifying when you attend a public hearing, I invite you to come anyway. You’ll have a chance to meet consumer groups from your area and to meet Florida’s Public Counsel who, by law, represents consumers' interests in utility rate cases before the PSC.

You might still ask, “Why should I testify before the Commission? I don’t know much about utility regulation.” Since you use electricity or gas and water, you are an expert about your utility’s service. Moreover, since you are in charge of your budget, you certainly know how the proposed increase will affect your ability to pay.

If you do not wish to comment publicly at a hearing, you can also write your comments and send them to the attention of a specific docket number at the PSC, 2540 Shumard Oak Blvd., Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0850. You may also call the PSC’s toll-free number, 1-800-342-3552, fax comments to 1-800-511-0809, or file comments electronically at: contact@psc.state.fl.us. Both oral and written comments become part of a utility case and are considered by the Commissioners in making their decision.

When the PSC staff prepares its final recommendation on the utility’s proposed rate request, and the Commission makes its decision, we issue a written order. Any party may ask the PSC to reconsider its decision on the issues. After the reconsideration, the Public Counsel, the utility, or any other party involved in the proceeding may appeal the Commission’s decision to the Florida Supreme Court.

Occurring within the 8-month statutory requirement, our complex process of lengthy hearings and hours of decision-making is often boiled down to the media’s 30-second sound bite, which, unfortunately, doesn’t capture the full story. As a Commissioner who’s been on the road lately, listening to consumers, I urge you to stay involved and be assured that your voice is being heard by real people who understand!

There are five ways to contact us:
Complete an online complaint form at www.floridapsc.com
E-mail contact@psc.state.fl.us
Call our toll-free number, 800-342-3552
Fax information to us toll-free, 800-511-0809

Send a letter to: The Florida Public Service Commission
2540 Shumard Oak Blvd., Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0850

PSC logo

In July, PSC staff will address an interconnection complaint by BellSouth Telecommunications against Halo Wireless, Inc. on July 12-13 ♦ A PSC Commission Conference is on July 17 ♦ PSC staff will hold a Customer Meeting in Leesburg for Utilities, Inc. of Pennbrooke's rate request on July 18 ♦ PSC staff will hold a rule revision workshop for Rule 25-12.045 on July 19 ♦ Commissioners will attend and participate in the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners summer meetings on July 23-26.

June Press Releases

Customer Meeting Set for Regency Utilities, Inc. 6/5/2012

PSC Commissioner Lisa Polak Edgar Nominated as NARUC’s Second Vice President 6/7/2012

PSC Customer Service Hearing Set for FPL Rate Request in Daytona Beach 6/8/2012

PSC Customer Service Hearing Set for FPL Rate Request in Melbourne 6/11/2012

PSC Customer Service Hearing Set for FPL Rate Request in West Palm Beach 6/12/2012

Customer-Owned Renewable Energy Continues to Grow in Florida 6/15/2012

PSC Reduces Gulf Power Company's Fuel 6/19/2012

PSC Customer Service Hearings Canceled in Miami, Miami Gardens, Plantation, and Ft. Lauderdale 6/25/2012

Notable FPSC Orders
Filed From June 1 - 25, 2012

Aqua Utilities Florida, Inc.
Docket No. 100330-WS
Order No. PSC-12-0259-FOF-WS
Granting Aqua’s motion for reconsideration; reconsidering and correcting errors.; except for corrections noted in order, all other aspects of the final order are reaffirmed.
♦   ♦   ♦

Tampa Electric Company
Docket No. 120038-EI
Order No. PSC-12-0303-PAA-EI
Approving TECO’s proposed modification to vegetation management plan.
♦   ♦   ♦

Florida Power & Light Company
Docket No. 120015-EI
Order No. PSC-12-0261-PCO-EI
Suspending FPL’s request for permanent base rate increase and associated tariffs; docket is open pending final PSC determination.
♦   ♦   ♦

Florida Power & Light Company
Docket No. 120079-EQ
Order No. PSC-12-0264-PAA-EQ
Approval of facility charges to interconnection customer-owned renewable generation of Tropicana Manufacturing Company, by FPL.
♦   ♦   ♦

Florida Telecommunications Relay Inc.
Docket No. 040763-TP
Order No. PSC-12-12-0314-CO-TP
Consummating Order making FTRI’s 2012-2013 budget maintaining $0.11 monthly surcharge for telecommunications relay services effective and final.




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Florida Public Service Commission
2540 Shumard Oak Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0850
1-800-342-3552