Tuesday, January 05, 2016

No Quick FPL Franchise Renewal At St. Augustine Beach

FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT will not receive a swift, premature, rubber-stamping 30 year franchise from St. Augustine Beach.

That was the news from St. Augustine Beach City Commission last night, on agenda item 4A.

The Record's new reporter did not include it in his report.

The Record's new reporter printed a story that was about height limits, without quoting a single resident.

Those who were there and watched on cable television or streaming video saw government at work, something that the Record's editors need to understand better.

Quoting Jim Hightower ("They're stealing the alternatives, folks!"), I spoke against the scheduling of a "workshop" on franchise renewal as it was premature and that alternatives and competition must be explored.  Agreeing with me were citizens Thomas F. Reynolds, Jr., Dr. Patricia Gill, Ed.D., Dr. Michel S. Pawlowski, Ann Palmquist, Mayor Richard O'Brien, Vice Mayor Undine Pawlowski George and Commissioners Margaret England, Andrea Samuels and Sherman Gary Snodgrass.  

Dr. Gill said there was no rush, since there will be one or two ballot initiatives on solar energy on the ballot this year or in 2018, and that it would be premature to give FPL a 30 year standard form franchise.  Dr. Pawlowski called for a citizen's committee and full public participation.

Mayor Richard O'Brien spoke for everyone when he said we're "interested in alternatives."  The franchise does not expire for two years, so Commissioner Snodgrass said, "I don't know why we're discussing this now," stating he wanted to hear "other options and alternatives," including plans involving interconnection and wheeling of electric power "through the grid system," cogeneration and solar energy buybacks.

FPL lobbyist David Cobb, sans tie, sat silently in the back of the room.  While our St. Johns County Commissioners and St. Augustine Commissioners have been fawningly obeisant toward FP&L and other contractors and franchisees, it's a whole new day at St. Augustine Beach.

Three cheers for Mayor O'Brien and Beach Commissioners, particularly S. Gary Snodgrass, formerly Human Resources Director and Member of the Board of Directors of Commonwealth Edison of Chicago and its successor corporation, EXCELON, after the merger of Philadelphia Electric.  Mr. Snodgrass is a sophisticated business person, and not likely to tolerate nonfeasance from City staff or the new City Attorney when it comes to electric power franchise and competition issues.  We expect our government officials to be watchdogs, not lapdogs (like the Florida Public Service Commission and the other governments dealing with FPL).

Some 25% of Florida residents get our power from municipal and cooperative electric utilities.  We don't have to give FPL a franchise and we don't have to pay franchise taxes on electric power.  We don't have to sell out to central station power plants and powerful monopolists.

Happy New Year!  St. Augustine Beach Commissioners are listening to the people, not monopolists.

St. Augustine Beach Mayor Richard O'Brien
St. Augustine Beach Commissioner Sherman Gary Snodgrass
We need more government watchdogs over Big Business monopolists like FPL

FPL is accustomed to regulatory lapdogs, like the Florida Public Service Commission

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