Our consumer mission resonates year-round at the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). In March, we step it up even further during National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) to reach residents who are eligible for discounted phone service, need help paying their utility bills or who need to be alerted about potential utility scams.
To broaden our consumer reach, this year the PSC and America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend have teamed up for the 18th Annual NCPW, March 7-11. City of Tallahassee Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Miller and United Way of the Big Bend President/CEO Katrina Rolle will join me and America’s Second Harvest CEO Jim Croteau at a morning press conference on Monday, March 7 to kick off NCPW. Second Harvest, a United Way agency, fights hunger in Tallahassee and 11 area counties. Its clients are eligible for the federal Lifeline Assistance telephone discount program and can also benefit from our other outreach messages. Our partnership with Second Harvest will help us reach these residents and also bring awareness to the face of hunger in our community.
In addition to the press conference at Second Harvest, the PSC will visit other Florida Second Harvest agencies during the week where we can talk to residents needing Lifeline Assistance or help with their utility bills. We will also share tips and reminders to help consumers save energy and conserve water, which are good practices for the environment and also lower utility bills. Some unsuspecting Floridians have lost thousands of dollars on unnecessary home energy products or by paying bogus “overdue” electric or water bills.
It is important to alert consumers of potential fraudsters posing as utility company employees who call or visit their home.
Here are a few general tips to protect yourself against utility-related scams:
Never allow anyone into your home unless you have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem, and always ask the employee/contractor for proper identification.
If a caller claims to be from your utility company and you are pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up and call the customer service number on your utility bill for information.
Delete any e-mails from utilities/companies with whom you’re not a customer.
Think safety first, always! Do not give in to high pressure tactics for information over the phone or in person.
Florida’s Cabinet agencies also participate in NCPW, helping consumers manage their money, protect themselves from identity theft, steer clear of fraud, and understand their rights. Here is information about what they are doing:
Charged with safeguarding Florida consumers from unfair, deceptive business practices and fraud, Commissioner Adam Putnam and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) serve as the state’s clearinghouse for information and consumer complaints. During NCPW, DACS reminds consumers that the best defense against fraud and deception is information. DACS has a wealth of information on consumer rights and assistance:www.freshfromflorida.com.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, in recognizing NCPW, encourages consumers to educate themselves about how to avoid consumer scams. Her Consumer Protection Division diligently pursues unscrupulous individuals and businesses that deceive or otherwise scam innocent consumers in violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. She advises consumers to protect themselves during business transactions by:
Researching companies prior to making any purchases or other transactions;
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater notes that the Department of Financial Services (DFS) helps inform Florida consumers to make sound financial and insurance decisions. DFS provides online presentations, calculators, and resource materials to help guide consumers on credit scoring, identity theft, warranties, long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages, and much more. Resources include an Insurance Library, OnDemand Library, and Consumer Guides available on the DFS website atwww.MyFloridaCFO.com/division/consumers.
Each year, NCPW reminds us why and how our service in state and local government is important to Florida’s consumers needing our assistance. Here are just a few examples of what we, at the PSC, accomplished for consumers in 2015:
Shared conservation and other information at more than 23 customer meetings in 2015;
Helped increase participation in Florida’s Lifeline Assistance program by 4.2 percent, reaching more than 800,000 subscribers; and
Assisted almost 10,000 consumers with resolving their utility issues.
At the PSC, we celebrate consumers during NCPW in March, and we look forward to hearing from them whenever they need us, 365 days of the year! PSC educational materials can be downloaded from our website,www.floridapsc.com, to share with family and friends or use at community events.
Electric Industry Docket No. 20150208 09/18/2015 - Petition for base rate reduction reflecting end of amortization period for retired plant, by Florida Power & Light Company.
Docket No. 20150223 10/15/2015 - Petition for approval of new environmental program for cost recovery through Environmental Cost Recovery Clause, by Tampa Electric Company.
Docket No. 20150262 12/10/2015 - Joint petition for approval of joint termination of settlement agreement by Tampa Electric Company and Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC.
Telecommunications Industry Docket No. 20150206 09/18/2015 - Application for certificate to provide local telecommunications service by Webpass Telecommunications LLC.
Docket No. 20150212 10/01/2015 - Application for certificate to provide local telecommunications service by PacOptic Networks, LLC.
Water and Wastewater Industry Docket No. 20150257 12/03/2015 - Application for staff-assisted rate case in Marion County, by East Marion Utilities, LLC.
Water Industry Docket No. 20150186 08/21/2015 - Application for certificate to operate a water utility in Hardee County by Charlie Creek Utilities, LLC.
February / March Notable FPSC Orders
Electric Industry Order No. PSC-2016-0065-PAA-EU
♦ Docket No:
02/05/2016 - PAA Order PSC-16-0065-PAA-EU approving the joint petition for approval
of the joint termination of settlement agreement by TECO and Mosaic; if no protest, order to become final and effective on issuance of CO; docket to be closed if order becomes final; protest due 2/26/16.
Order No. PSC-2016-0068-PAA-EI
♦ Docket No:
02/09/2016 - PAA Order PSC-16-0068-PAA-EI approving TECO's Coal Combustion Residuals Compliance Program for cost recovery through the Environmental Cost Recovery Clause; order to become final and effective on issuance of CO; if no timely protest, docket to be closed; protest due 3/1/16.
Order No. PSC-2016-0075-PAA-EI
♦ Docket No:
02/17/2016 - PAA Order PSC-16-0075-PAA-EI approving FPL's request to decrease its annual revenue requirement; revised requirement shall be implemented 3/1/16; order to become final and effective on issuance of CO; if no timely protest, docket to be closed; protest due 3/9/16.
Telecommunications Industry Order No. PSC-2016-0070-CO-TX
♦ Docket No:
02/15/2016 - Consummating Order PSC-16-0070-CO-TX makes Order PSC-16-0036-PAA-TX effective and final; docket shall be closed.
Order No. PSC-2016-0079-CO-TX
♦ Docket No:
02/19/2016 - Consummating Order PSC-16-0079-CO-TX makes Order PSC-16-0044-PAA-TX effective and final; docket shall be closed.
Water and Wastewater Industry Order No. PSC-2016-0071-PCO-WS
♦ Docket No:
02/15/2016 - Order PSC-16-0071-PCO-WS granting interim rate increase; docket shall remain open.
Water Industry Order No. PSC-2016-0080-CO-WU
♦ Docket No:
02/19/2016 - Consummating Order PSC-16-0080-CO-WU makes Order PSC-16-0043-PAA-WU effective and final; docket to remain open.