Challenge of Ruling on Energy Efficiency Continues

Guest Blog | April 26, 2012 | Press Releases

Jacksonville, Fla. — The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) took its campaign for lower electricity bills and less air pollution to Florida’s highest court today. SACE is appealing a pair of Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) Orders that effectively slash the conservation goals for the state’s two largest power companies: Florida Power and Light (FPL) and Progress Energy Florida (PEF).

“It’s unfortunate that the PSC saw fit to deny customers more energy savings opportunities at a time when customers are looking for ways to use energy smarter and save money on their bills,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest resource that utilities can buy. It helps the customers of utilities balance their household budgets. Energy efficiency employs local businesses in skilled trades. Locking in place what are now among the weakest and most dated programs in the

Southeast is a shameless failure of leadership by the Florida Public Service Commission.”
SACE’s legal appeal is a direct challenge to the nonsensical notion that utilities serve customers best by building expensive power plants rather than helping them avoid energy waste. Acting under the authority of the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA), the PSC Orders issued in December 2011 direct the utilities to continue offers that, by law, should have been replaced in 2010 with updated plans. The failure of the PSC to support the growth of energy efficiency at FPL and PEF is a direct blow to the budgets of families and businesses across Florida.

“The PSC Orders return utility-run energy efficiency programs to the status quo under evidence introduced eight years ago and PSC policies that were rendered moot by law three years ago,” said George Cavros, attorney for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Returning to ‘historic’ programs is out of step with Florida law, which demands that the PSC address today’s problems with today’s technology and business leadership.”

Furthermore, the PSC Orders reflects a sharp reversal of the Commission’s stance in recent FEECA rulings. The appeal cites support for stronger goals, strictly applied in each of the prior orders issued by the PSC.

SACE has been a consistent advocate for the interests of utility customers for the nearly four years of proceedings regarding energy efficiency programs. While our call for more energy efficiency was supported to some degree in the PSC’s initial orders, more recently the PSC has altogether ignored our efforts to press FPL and PEF to submit cost-efficient programs that deliver energy efficiency at costs comparable to utilities across the country – even to PEF’s affiliate in the Carolinas.

Instead of a focus on helping customers cut energy waste, the proceedings have been marked by utility resistance and inconsistent, feckless leadership by the Florida Public Service Commission. Recognizing that Florida Law directs its agency to regulate in the public interest, SACE is asking the Florida Supreme Court to ensure that the PSC cannot legally turn back the clock on energy efficiency.

The SACE brief and its appendix can be accessed on the organization’s website on the Testimony Page. # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast