Florida congressional members latest to oppose ‘energy choice’ amendment

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Republicans and Democrats unite here.

The petition process for the 2020 ballot continues apace, with an “energy choice” amendment showing enough momentum to perhaps meet the signature threshold.

A full 24 Florida members of Congress, however, vigorously oppose the measure, as they wrote in a letter to Attorney General Ashley Moody Friday.

The group of 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans assert that the proposed amendment, which would supposedly create a competitive market in the traditionally monopolistic world of utilities, would have bad effects.

Among them: dismantling the power grid; threatening “complete energy deregulation”; higher rates and worse reliability.

“We cannot allow Florida’s energy market to be disrupted by special interests,” the signatories contended.

Republicans signing onto the letter: U.S. Reps. Gus BilirakisMike WaltzTed YohoJohn RutherfordVern BuchananMario Diaz-BalartNeal DunnBrian Mast; Francis RooneyGreg SteubeDaniel Webster; and Bill Posey.

Democratic signatories: U.S. Rep. Al LawsonFrederica WilsonDebbie Wasserman SchultzDonna ShalalaStephanie MurphyDebbie Murcasel-PowellLois FrankelAlcee HastingsVal DemingsTed DeutchCharlie Crist; and Darren Soto.

This comes as advocates for an “energy choice” amendment continue to bankroll their effort, raising just over $3 million through June to secure nearly half of the petitions needed for a 2020 vote.

A proposed constitutional amendment that would open the state’s electricity market to competition, creating an “open and competitive energy market” is now over 360,000 signatures, nearly half of the 766,200 needed by Feb. 1, 2020 for ballot access.

The ballot initiative’s title is “Right to Competitive Energy Market for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities.”

If the amendment passes with 60 percent of the vote on the 2020 ballot, it will change Florida’s energy sector, by allowing customers of investor-owned utilities to shop for the best price.

Current investor-owned utilities, or IOUs, would be restricted to construction or maintenance of infrastructure.

Coalition for Energy Choice is the sole funder of the effort, and added $365,000 to coffers in June, with Infinite Energy offering just over $13,000 in staff help.

Infinite Energy is a multistate operator with a Gainesville branch. The company also operates in Texas, Georgia, New York and New Jersey.

Opposition is fierce from the political establishment: business groups, the Urban League, the League of Cities and AG Moody oppose the ballot measure.

If passed, the measure could represent seismic change for Florida’s politically-connected utilities sector.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski

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