Proponents of a statewide initiative that would bring electricity competition to Florida and allow consumers to choose their own suppliers enjoyed a significant victory earlier today.
A panel of state’s economists called the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FIEC) rejected the investor-owned utilities’ arguments against energy choice and will not oppose the initiative. The FIEC found that “because it [energy choice] is subject to The legislative implementation, the final design of the restructured system is unknowable at this time.”
The FIEC is part of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR), a research arm of the Legislature principally concerned with forecasting economic and social trends that affect policy making.
The initiative, which is backed by the political committee Citizens for Energy Choices, calls for wholesale and retail electricity markets to “be fully competitive so that electricity customers are afforded meaningful choices” among multiple electricity providers.
“We applaud the policy committee for taking a reasoned approach to the process. Energy choice, when implemented correctly, is a real win for Floridians and the alternative energy markets,” said Alex Patton, chairman of Citizens for Energy Choices.
The petition-driven initiative triggered a review by the Florida Supreme Court and the Financial Impact Estimating Conference by reaching the threshold of 76,632 signatures in January. The petition currently carries a total of 108,873 valid signatures.
The Energy Choice initiative has met its fair share of opposition, though.
Earlier this month the Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody challenged the language of the proposal stating that “the undisclosed chief purpose of the proposed amendment is to eliminate the main providers of electricity service to Floridians, the investor-owned utilities.”
In an interview with Energy Pages, Alex Patton, chairman of Citizens for Energy Choices challenged Moody’s statements.
“Florida Energy Choice looks forward to working with Attorney General Moody’s staff to demonstrate how our actual proposal differs from how the investor-owned utilities are characterizing it,” he said.
The state Supreme Court now has to approve the amendment’s wording. Then, the petition still requires a total of 766,200 signatures to make Florida’s 2020 ballot. Once on the ballot, it would need the approval of 60% of Florida voters.
“The bottom line is this initiative can transform our markets for the better by promoting competition, increasing alternative energy and breaking the hold by the monopoly utilities to give consumers real choice,” Patton concluded in a statement released this afternoon.
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