Sunday, August 18, 2019

FPL wants to confuse consumers about benefits of electricity market competition | Opinion by Nancy Argenziano (Sun Sentinel)

FPL wants to confuse consumers about benefits of electricity market competition | Opinion

FPL wants to confuse consumers about benefits of electricity market competition | Opinion
We must not permit monopoly utilities to continue to oppose the best interests of Florida ratepayers when it comes to choice in the provision of energy, writes the former chair of the Florida Public Service Commission. 
Florida Power and Light President and CEO Eric Silagy’s patently self-serving op-ed of July 31 relating to the energy choice amendment begs for a response. As a former Florida Representative, Senator, Florida Public Service Commissioner and Chair,1996-2010, permit me to furnish one.
Simply put, Mr. Silagy distorts the truth and utilizes scare tactics in an effort to confuse the public about the benefits of electric restructuring, solar, and consumer choice.
FPL, the 800-pound regulated industry gorilla, has enjoyed a long history of bending both the Legislature and the Florida PSC to its designs, to the detriment of its ratepayers.
During my term at the PSC, this was illustrated by FPL’s less than forthcoming presentations in FPL’s first rate case in almost two decades; its invention of “costs” to be borne by the ratepayer; FPL’s coziness with certain PSC commissioners, their staff, and some PSC general staff; and, its outrageous influence over legislators and legislative leadership.y  
Disclosure: While other Commissioners and I were the subject of FPL opposition and its conspiracy with Associated Industries of Florida — of which FPL was a significant dues-paying member — to smear us, this was and is simply how this corporate citizen gets to do business under the then and current existing legislative model.
Nancy Argenziano is a former state legislator and former member of the Florida Public Service Commission, which she chaired in 2010.
Nancy Argenziano is a former state legislator and former member of the Florida Public Service Commission, which she chaired in 2010. (Handout)
Lately, in its filing in connection with the “Solar Together” proposal, FPL yet again shows its colors when caught proposing to exclude from the program any ratepayer who had favored energy choice. Not disclosed was what Big Brother scheme would identify such a person.
Mr. Silagy makes claims generally without support. The one time he cites a source — the Federal Energy Information Administration — he uses their data to make a false comparison between FPL’s residential price and Texas’ residential price.
Using the EIA’s most recent data, the all-in price paid by Texas customers in competitive markets is about the same as that paid by FPL customers (11.11 cents per kilowatt hour for Texas retail providers; 11.20 for FPL). These figures, however, do not reflect a fair equivalence in provided product.
All-in prices include several costs besides the energy itself. Electric rates include costs such as delivery and maintenance, capital spending, and profit. Texas prices can also include services that customers choose to have bundled in, such as green energy, energy-efficient devices, and close use monitoring.
Florida prices include plants that were never built or failed to go into operation, the cost of regulatory and political spending, and waste, which doesn’t exist when a utility is focused on its particular service: in the case of energy competition, building and maintaining poles andwires.
And while Mr. Silagy’s comments paint a bleak picture of a utility providing distribution services only — poles and wires — FPL’s parent company, NextEra’s recent bid of $19 billion for a Texas poles-and-wires only utility (ONCOR) argues to the contrary.
The operative law for the monopolist provision of necessary utility services in this country was decided by the Supreme Court in 1923. During the ensuing 96 years, consumers have benefited from tremendous advances in technology in industries that allow competition — airlines, cell phones, computers, taxi service — Florida energy and consumers deserve the same opportunity.
NextEra already participates in competitive markets. While the amendment means FPL as a utility will not be able to directly own generation or serve customers, its affiliates can. NextEra’s company Gexa is one of the largest competitive retail providers in the United States.
Florida’s investor-owned utilities made more than $43 million in political contributions in the 2014 and 2016 election cycles, according to Integrity Florida and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
The energy choice ballot amendment deserves a 21st century audition. An analysis by the Perryman Group shows that Florida ratepayers would have saved $5 billion every year if choice had been available in 2016. That’s together with a 150 percent economic activity multiplier effect and 70,000 jobs enhancement.
It’s the responsibility of citizens to demand our representatives act ethically and in the best interest of their constituents. Not doing so will ultimately cost Florida ratepayers even more than the $5 billion a year estimated by Perryman, or the $6 billion, which I calculated in 2010, with which ratepayers are currently saddled.
We must not permit monopoly utilities to continue to oppose the best interests of Florida ratepayers when it comes to choice in the provision of energy.
Nancy Argenziano is a former state representative, former state senator and former member of the Florida Public Service Commission, which she chaired in 2010.

Scott Maddox pleads guilty in Tallahassee public corruption case, admits UBER bribe. (FLAPOL/NSoF)

Tallahassee City Commissioner pleads guilty to taking bribes from UBER -- Scott Maddox, former Tallahassee Mayor, former State Democratic Party Chair, former candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Photo credit: Phil Sears


Scott Maddox pleads guilty in Tallahassee public corruption case

Sentencing was set for Nov. 19. 

Suspended Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Charles Maddox pleaded guilty Tuesday as part of a 4-year-old FBI investigation into public corruption in the capital city.
The 51-year-old Maddox, who was the city’s first directly-elected “leadership” mayor in the late 1990s, pleaded guilty to three substantive ‘theft of honest services’ charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit tax fraud.
Also pleading guilty to the same counts was Maddox’s longtime friend, former aide and business partner Janice Paige Carter-Smith. Most recently, she also had been the Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority‘s executive director, a position from which she stepped down.
Maddox’s guilty pleas likely put an end, at least for now, of a decades-long political career that included a troubled chairmanship of the Florida Democratic Party and a failed bid for state Agriculture Commissioner against Republican Adam Putnam in 2010.
The investigation also became a significant part of the 2018 gubernatorial election, where then-Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Governor, faced numerous questions about his interactions with undercover FBI agents. Gillum, who has not been charged, ultimately lost to Republican Ron DeSantis by less than 33,000 votes.
The gist of the allegations was that Carter-Smith helped Maddox in an ongoing scheme to solicit bribes from companies seeking to do business in or with the city of Tallahassee.
It was disclosed during the change-of-plea hearing that part of the case in fact involved Maddox reportedly selling his vote for an unnamed “rideshare company” and another company.
Tuesday’s plea hearing, however, almost ground to a halt. Maddox balked under questioning by Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, saying he didn’t “believe that what’s in the statement of facts constitutes a crime.” And Carter-Smith said of one incident that Maddox would have voted for the company in question anyway.
Hinkle asked Maddox whether he met with representatives of the ride-sharing company and referred them to Carter-Smith, telling them she could procure a positive outcome from the city commissioner on the company’s issue.
Maddox said he offered an amendment that was favorable to the company and joined in the commission’s unanimous vote in support of the ordinance.
The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported in 2017 that ride-sharing company Uber had hired Carter-Smith during intense lobbying about a local ordinance that pitted the app-based industry against taxi companies.
When asked Tuesday morning by Hinkle if she and Maddox had agreed to “solicit payment” from the unidentified ride-sharing company, Carter-Smith told the judge that “the client assumed by hiring me that they would have his support.”
Hinkle eventually told both defendants they “both kind of danced around it,”adding that “when a defendant says ‘I didn’t do it,’ I don’t take the plea.”
After some back and forth, Hinkle later asked both Maddox and Carter-Smith, “Are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty?” They each said, “Yes, sir.” (The statement of facts in the case is at the bottom of this post.)
Sentencing was set for Nov. 19, when the pair faces as much as 45 years in prison. Their actual sentencing guidelines had not been computed as of Tuesday.
Also unknown was whether Maddox or Carter-Smith have agreed to help the federal government in pursuing other targets in the investigation. Asked later at a press conference, U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe– the top federal prosecutor for the Northern District of Florida – declined to say whether they will.
A third co-defendant, local entrepreneur J.T. Burnette, was indicted this May on federal charges, including fraud and racketeering. Later Tuesday, Hinkle denied his attorney’s request for more time to prepare for trial, leaving trial set for Nov. 4.
Both Maddox and Carter-Smith were indicted in December 2018, the first to come out of an investigation into alleged crime and corruption in the Tallahassee.
Charges included “conspiring to operate a racketeering enterprise that engaged in acts of bank fraud, extortion, honest services fraud, and bribery.”
The indictment focused on Governance Services, LLC, and Governance, Inc., companies that Maddox and Carter-Smith “allegedly conspired to operate.”
Maddox voted on and influenced others to vote on actions that “benefitted the businesses that paid” Governance, according to that indictment.
The indictment also alleges that Maddox and Carter-Smith lied to the FBI and the Florida Commission on Ethics during the course of the investigation.
It further claims the two hid from the City Attorney and City Commission “the fact Maddox was being paid by companies doing business with the city.”
As well, the indictment says the pair defrauded a bank of more than $250,000 through two short sales of property, and that they violated federal tax laws.
Maddox, a former Tallahassee mayor and later commissioner, was suspended by then-Gov. Rick Scott and has been at least temporarily replaced by Elaine Bryant as Seat 1 Commissioner.
A Periscope video of Keefe’s press conference, in which he also announces the creation of a “Public Trust Unit” in his office, is below. The unit is aimed at “identifying, investigating, disrupting and prosecuting government corruption and on securing elections.”
Background provided by Florida Politics staff and files.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this post.


See Jim Rosica's other Tweets


CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Read St. Johns County's and Sheriff's Lobbyist T. Martin Fiorentino's Lobbying Client List

Uber, St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, PARC Group (Nocatee developers), Vulcan Industries, City of Jacksonville, the St. Johns County Commission and Court Clerk and State Court Clerk's Association, BHK Capital, Crowley Maritime, CSX Transportation -- these clients have inconsistent interests and their simultaneous representation by the same bagman-fundraiser-lobbyist is deeply disturbing.

We hope the FBI is on the case, as it was on convicted Uber bribe-taking Tallahassee Commissioner and ex-Mayor SCOTT MADDOX, former Florida Democratic Party Chair. 

St. Johns County has wasted more than half a million dollars over ten years on the services of louche lobbyist T. MARTIN FIORENTINO, JR.  Here is the list of all of his clients, suggesting he is the switchboard of the controlling interests in Northeast Florida, a walking conflict of interest, and a stench in the nostrils of St. Johns County.

From State of Florida lobbying records:

T. Martin Fiorentino Jr.

Mailing Address:

1301 Riverplace Blvd
Suite 1300
Jacksonville, FL 32207

Phone Number:

(904) 358-2757


• Lobbyists registered to lobby the House and Senate will not display any chamber reference.
• Lobbyists registered to lobby one chamber and/or the PSCNC (Public Service Commission Nominating Council) will display the names of the entity(ies) next to their names (e.g., (Senate, PSCNC)) within the principal's information.
• Lobbyists registered to lobby all three legislative entities will display all entity names (e.g., (House, Senate, PSCNC)).

150 S Monroe St
Ste 400
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Industry Code: 517110 Wired Telecommunications Carriers
Effective Date: 1/4/2019

10752 Deerwood Park Blvd S #110
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Industry Code: 524114 Direct Health and Medical Insurance Carriers
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
BHK Capital, LLC

1548 The Greens Way
Ste 6
Jacksonville, FL 32250
Industry Code: 237210 Land Subdivision
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
City of Atlantic Beach

800 Seminole Rd
Atlantic Bch, FL 32233-5444
Industry Code: 921120 Legislative assemblies
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
City of Green Cove Springs

321 Walnut St
Green Cove Springs, FL 32043
Industry Code: 921120 Legislative Bodies
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
City of Jacksonville

117 W Duval St
Ste 400
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Industry Code: 921110 Mayor's offices
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Clay County

477 Houston Street
4th Floor – Purchasing Dept.
Green Cove Springs, Florida 32043
Industry Code: 921120 County commissioners
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Clerk of the Circuit Court, Clay County

825 North Orange Avenue
Green Cove Springs, Florida 32043
Industry Code: 921130 Controllers' and comptrollers' offices, government
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc

4266 Sunbeam Rd
Jacksonville, FL 32257
Industry Code: 621610 Home Health Care Services
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Connie Turner Interiors, Inc.

3733 University Blvd W
Suite 211
Jacksonville, FL 32217-2152
Industry Code: 541410 Interior design services
Effective Date: 4/6/2019
Crowley Maritime

9487 Regency Square Blvd
Jacksonville, Florida 32225
Industry Code: 483111 Deep sea freight transportation to or from foreign ports
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
CSX Transportation

500 Water St J130
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Industry Code: 482111 Line-Haul Railroads
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Duval County Public Schools

1701 Prudential Dr
Jacksonville, FL 32207
Industry Code: 611110 Elementary and secondary schools
Effective Date: 2/15/2019
Estuary LLC.

4310 Pablo Oaks Ct
Jacksonville, FL 32224
Industry Code: 112111 Calf (e.g., feeder, stocker, veal) production
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Five Stars Veterans Center

40 Acme Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32211
Industry Code: 813319 Community action advocacy organizations
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Flagler County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller

1769 E Moody Blvd
Building 1
Bunnell, FL 32110-5991
Industry Code: 921130 Controllers' and comptrollers' offices, government
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Flagler Hospital

400 Health Park Blvd
St Augustine, FL 32086
Industry Code: 622110 Hospitals, general medical and surgical
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers

3544 Maclay Blvd
Tallahassee, FL 32312
Industry Code: 813920 Professional membership associations
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Florida Crystals Corporation

One N Clematis St
Ste 200
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Industry Code: 311312 Cane Sugar Refining
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Florida Maritime Partnership

1301 Riverplace Blvd
Suite 1300
Jacksonville, FL 32207-9027
Industry Code: 813920 Professional associations
Effective Date: 3/21/2019
Girl Scouts of Gateway Council

1000 Shearer Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32205-6055
Industry Code: 813410 Scouting organizations
Effective Date: 7/11/2019
HDR Engineering, Inc

2202 N Westshore Blvd
Ste 250
Tampa, FL 33607
Industry Code: 541330 Engineering Services
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Intuition Ale Works

720 King St
Jacksonville, FL 32204
Industry Code: 333241 brewery
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Jacksonville Aviation Authority

Po Box 18018
Jacksonville, FL 32229-0018
Industry Code: 488119 Airport operators (e.g., civil, international, national)
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Jacksonville Icemen Hockey

4130 Salisbury Rd
Suite 1340
Jacksonville, FL 32216-8049
Industry Code: 711211 Hockey teams, professional or semiprofessional
Effective Date: 3/21/2019
Jacksonville Port Authority

PO Box 3005
Jacksonville, FL 32206-3005
Industry Code: 488310 Port and Harbor Operations
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Jacksonville Transportation Authority

100 N Myrtle Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Industry Code: 926120 Regulation and Administration of Transportation Programs
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Jacksonville University

2800 University Blvd N
Jacksonville, FL 32211
Industry Code: 611310 Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

370 Zoo Pky
Jacksonville, FL 32218
Industry Code: 712130 Zoos and Botanical Gardens
Effective Date: 1/4/2019 (Withdrawn on: 05/02/19 )
Johnson Controls, Inc

507 E Michigan St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Industry Code: 238220 HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) contractors
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
KIPP Schools

501 Riverside Ave
Ste 500
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Industry Code: 611110 Elementary and Secondary Schools
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Loop's Nursery and Greenhouses, Inc

2568 Old Middleburg Rd N
Jacksonville, FL 32210-3511
Industry Code: 111422 Plant, potted flower and foliage, growing
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Marcus Button, Mark & Robin Button, as parents of Marcus Button

14517 N 18Th St
Tampa, FL 32313
Industry Code: 541110 Attorneys' offices
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Mitchell International, Inc

14295 Midway Rd
Ste 300
Addison, TX 75001
Industry Code: 524291 Claims Adjusting
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Monique Burr Foundation for Children, Inc

7807 Baymeadows Rd E
Ste 205
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Industry Code: 813319 Other Social Advocacy Organizations
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Mylan Specialty L.P.

700 6th St NW
Ste 25
Washington, DC 20001
Industry Code: 325412 Pharmaceutical preparations (e.g., capsules, liniments, ointments, tablets) manufacturing
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
North Florida School of Special Education

223 Mill Creek Rd
Jacksonville, FL 32211-8205
Industry Code: 611110 Schools for the intellectually and developmentally disabled (except preschool, job training, vocational rehabilitation)
Effective Date: 1/31/2019
PARC Group, The

4314 Pablo Oaks Ct
Jacksonville, FL 32224
Industry Code: 236117 New Housing Operative Builders
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
PGA Tour

100 PGA Tour Blvd
Pointe Vedra Beach, FL 32082
Industry Code: 813990 Athletic leagues (i.e., regulating bodies)
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
St. Johns County

500 San Sebastian View
St Augustine, FL 32084
Industry Code: 921120 Legislative Bodies
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
St. Johns County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller

4010 Lewis Speedway
St Augustine, FL 32084
Industry Code: 921130 Controllers' and comptrollers' offices, government
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
St. Johns County Sheriff's Office

4015 Lewis Speedway
St Augustine, FL 32084
Industry Code: 922120 Police Protection
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Uber Technologies, Inc. and Affiliates

1455 Market Street
Suite 400
San Francisco, CA 94103
Industry Code: 485320 Automobile rental with driver (except shuttle service, taxis)
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
UF Health Jacksonville

655 W 8th St
Jacksonville, FL 32209
Industry Code: 622110 General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
Vulcan Materials Company

155 E 21st St 5th Floor
Jacksonville, FL 32206
Industry Code: 212321 Construction Sand and Gravel Mining
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum

1 World Golf Pl
St Augustine, FL 32092-2724
Industry Code: 712110 Halls of fame
Effective Date: 1/4/2019
YMCA of Florida's First Coast

40 East Adams Street
Suite 210
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
Industry Code: 624110 Youth centers (except recreational only)
Effective Date: 1/4/2019