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Senate sends PSC bill back to House with changes that “folks in the hall” don’t like

The Senate on Friday voted to send an amended Public Service Commission bill back to the House after Sen. Jack Latvala indicated that Capitol lobbyists are not pleased with it.

HB 7109 would limit PSC members to serving three four-year terms and require those who lobby to register the PSC Nominating Council to register as lobbyists. The bill also allows Duke Energy Florida to issue bonds to pay for closing down its Crystal River nuclear plant, which Latvala said would save an estimated $600 million for customers.

The bill was amended Thursday to match language in the Senate version requiring the commission to hold rate hearings every other year in the service territories of the state’s four largest electric utilities: Duke, Florida Power & Light Co., Gulf Power Co. and Tampa Electric.

Latvala, a Republican from St. Petersburg, said “folks in the hall are not real pleased” with one of two amendments passed on Thursday but he didn’t say which one. He is sponsor of the SB 288, which was replaced by the House bill on Thursday.

The other amendment required utilities to refund excess deposits after a one-year period.

Latvala said he didn’t see anything wrong with requiring the PSC to hold meetings in utility service areas every other year. Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities are excluded, he said.

“We are going to send it over to the House,” Latvala told senators. “Hopefully over the weekend they will give that a lot of thought and evaluate the total good of this bill to the citizens we represent around the state and decide its a good bill and send it out at the first of the week.”

The bill passed 39-0.

Earlier this week in the House refused to adopt a variety of amendments to the bill as Republican leaders said they didn’t want to doom the bill with its reform measures in the Senate.

On Thursday, Sen. Anitere Flores, a Republican from Miami, similarly raised concerns about whether the Senate amendments could doom the bill in the House.

Latvala responded that the Senate traditionally doesn’t have to accept what the House passes. And he said the meeting requirement is not unreasonable.

“I don’t think this is going to kill the bill, but the responsibility for that will be over there,” Latvala said.

Bruce Ritchie (@bruceritchie) covers environment, energy and growth management in Tallahassee. 

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