‘It’s wrong’: Charlie Crist blasts Gov. DeSantis, PSC for punting on utility rate hikes until after the election

Crist_Desantis side_by_side (1)
‘The political charade in this delay couldn’t be more transparent — and it’s Floridians who will pay the price.’

Citing impacts from Hurricane Ian, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has rescheduled hearings on utility rate hikes until after the Nov. 8 election. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist says the delay is a politically motivated “charade” meant to help Gov. Ron DeSantis hold on to power.

The PSC announced plans this week to move the hearings from Nov. 1-3 to Nov. 17-18 because of the storm, which slammed into Southwest Florida on Sept. 28, knocking out power for more than 2.6 million Floridians and killing more than 100 people.

Two weeks later, less than 1% of customers who lost power remain disconnected, all of them in hardest-hit Lee County. Estimated damage due to the storm is between $41 billion and $70 billion.

Postponing a vote on a vital pocketbook issue affecting all state residents until after voters go to the polls next month, Crist said, allows PSC members — all appointed by the Governor — and DeSantis himself to avoid having to answer for disproportionately rising electricity costs that could grow even pricier next year.

“The political charade in this delay couldn’t be more transparent — and it’s Floridians who will pay the price,” Crist said in a statement.

“DeSantis cares more about utility companies than the squeeze Floridians are feeling from the skyrocketing cost of living happening on his watch. It’s wrong. Floridians deserve a Governor who will always have their back, not the back of the price-gouging utilities.”

Crist isn’t alone in believing the PSC vote delay is strategic.

“With people being billed already with rate increases and fuel costs, they would not want to — right before an election — pour more gas on that fire,” Susan Glickman, a Crist supporter and Florida consultant with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, told POLITICO this week.

Even before Ian made a path for the Sunshine State, Crist was bashing DeSantis on power rate increases the Governor helped to clear while in office, including a $5 billion uptick in charges for Florida Power & Light customers over the next four years.

During a mid-September stop in Pensacola — where city Commissioners called on the PSC to review FPL’s rate increases — Crist unveiled his “Take Back Your Power” plan. The plan includes freezing rates, restoring local control over energy sources, expediting clean energy transitions, including allowing residents to more easily install rooftop solar panels, and prohibiting state-regulated utilities like FPL from making campaign contributions.

DeSantis has accepted more than $3 million in campaign funds from FPL and associated organizations, according to his fundraising filings.

Crist’s visit to the city came on the heels of a request FPL, Duke Energy and Tampa Electric filed in early September to increase charges for commercial and residential customers in 2023. Some at the time, including Crist, speculated the companies could ask to pass along higher fuel costs to their clientele.

“FPL made a big bet on natural gas — if gas stayed cheap, they’d make money,” he said. “When Russia invaded Ukraine, gas went up, but instead of shareholders taking the hit for FPL’s bad bet, they’re making you, the people, pay for it. Under Ron DeSantis, it’s heads they win and tails you lose.”

The proposed electric bill hikes FPL, Duke and TECO seek would kick in early next year. The companies estimated increases would average between 8% and 13%.

On Monday, the PSC approved plans FPL, Duke, TECO and Florida Public Utilities Co. submitted for an array of projects to improve the resilience of power systems across the state, including undergrounding power lines. The work is expected to cost billions over the next decade.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


5 comments

  • Charlie Crist

    October 14, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    I will embarrass mini Hitler during the debate. Stay tuned.

  • tom palmer

    October 14, 2022 at 5:11 pm

    Finally, Crist has latched onto an issue that matters. It’s also interesting that the Andrew Warren fiasco will not be heard until after the election. How convenient.

    • Ocean Joe

      October 15, 2022 at 6:26 am

      Consumers always lose under GOP control, and when the price hikes are approved it will all be blamed on Mr. Biden. The XL pipeline carrying sludge to Texas, the border, trying to take away assault rifles, and searching Mar-A-Lago will all be cited as factors for the increase. More nonsense to distract, more money into already stuffed pockets.
      They need to rename it the “Private Service Commission.”

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    October 15, 2022 at 11:41 am

    The far left frothers spew hopelessly

    Chameleon Charlie will soon return to obscurity

  • David Hardingham

    October 16, 2022 at 1:21 am

    The DNC need put money to fight the Lies ads deSantis has on tv

Comments are closed.


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