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Possible Florida Power and Light rate raise sparks debate

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A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers is urging the Florida Public Service Commission to vote down Florida Power and Light’s pending rate increase agreement. The increase would allow the company to increase rates for the coming year as well as twice between 2014 and 2016.

The raised rates will also increase the company’s profit margin by .7 percent.

Four state representatives Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, Mike Fasano, Dwight Dudley and Daphne Campbell, have formed a coalition to bring more oversight to to the commission and oppose the rate increase.

“This is precedent that’s being set here by the Public Service Commission,” Fasano said.

He said the request is too high and could undermine the commission’s regulatory process, because there was little public input.

Nancy Argenziano and Nathan Skop, both former public service commissioners, claim their blocking of a Florida Power and Light rate increase in 2010 led to their removal from the Public Service Commission. Utility companies in favor of the rate raise donated to legislators responsible for choosing public service commissioners.

“This is just outrageous,” Fasano said.

He suspects few legislators actually support the raise.

“I would be surprised if any senator — for that matter, any legislator, would support the proposal that is [going] to be possibly adopted by the Public Service Commission,” he said.

Vasilinda said although this bipartisan group cannot directly influence Public Service Commission proceedings, it can explain the issue to consumers.

“What we can do is keep a focus on the Public Service Commission and what they’re doing,” she said.

Katherine Hahn edited this story online.

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