A proposed amendment to deregulate Florida’s electric industry is garnering more pushback.
A group called Floridians for Affordable Reliable Energy (FARE) now is launching efforts to oppose the plan.
“Today, Florida consumers pay some of the lowest rates in the country,” said former Democratic state Rep. Robert Asencio, who now serves on the FARE board.
“We cannot allow Florida’s stable energy market to be disrupted by special interests who are only looking out for their bottom line, and not the public interest.”
The amendment would allow Floridians to pay for their electricity on an outside market rather than pay their local utility. It also purports to expand individuals’ ability to use solar energy to power their own homes.
While proponents of the measure say increased competition would reduce prices, the Florida Chamber, AIF and utility companies argue that’s not the case. FARE’s board members are also pushing back on that claim.
“Deregulation allows third party providers to come between ratepayers and the power company and charge whatever they want,” Asencio said.
“It also allows them to engage in market schemes that unfairly target our most vulnerable citizens, particularly our seniors, leading to spikes in costs.”
“The latest efforts by some in Florida to deregulate our energy market is yet another attempt to bait and switch voters with a misleading initiative,” added former Democratic state Rep. Joe Gibbons, another member of FARE’s board.
“When it comes to Florida’s energy market, ‘choice’ is being used by the big players as an opportunity to fool voters, so the existing structure is abandoned. Today’s regulated market ensures that any rate increases are approved by an accountable commission that oversees the market.”
J.B. Clark, executive board member of the Florida AFL-CIO, also sits on FARE’s board. Clark pointed to other states that have experimented with deregulation and saw rates go up for many customers.
“Deregulation simply does not work and only serves to enrich the mega-corporations while working families get stuck with higher bills,” Clark said.
“In fact, states that have implemented deregulation in the last decade are now struggling with its adverse impacts. I am eager to work with FARE and its coalition partners to share with Floridians why deregulation is a dangerous gamble, and one where Floridians will be on the losing end.”
To be placed on the ballot, the proposed amendment requires 766,200 signatures. It has already earned the required mark of 76,632 signatures to be reviewed by Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Other members of the FARE executive board include:
— Scott Arceneaux, former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party.
— Robin Lockett, president of the Hillsborough County Democratic Black Caucus.
— Gil Ziffer, former Tallahassee City Commissioner.
— Jackie Lee, founding partner of JLee Strategies.