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THE MONOPOLY STRIKES BACK

image credit: Photo 37739922 © Albund - Dreamstime.com

The Florida Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that ballot initiative language that would allow electricity consumers to choose their energy and service providers was misleading. The decision means that Florida voters will not have an opportunity in November to gain their energy freedom.

The group behind the initiative, Citizens for Energy Choice, has been working for two years to bring retail energy choice to Florida consumers, against the staunch opposition of the incumbent utility monopolies NextEra Energy Inc. and Duke Energy Corp.

“The Florida decision is disappointing,” said Robert Dillon, executive director of the Energy Choice Coalition in Washington, D.C. “Energy freedom is a pretty easy concept for voters to grasp. Either you can purchase energy from an open market, or you have to take what the monopoly utility gives you. Obviously, Florida voters don’t get the opportunity to decide that for themselves right now. Energy choice will be back on the table in Florida soon enough, though. Competition in electricity markets is gaining momentum across the country because it gives consumers what they want – cleaner energy options, lower utility bills, and greater control over their energy use data. The monopoly system is a dinosaur that just doesn’t know its days are numbered yet.”

Read full court ruling here.

Robert Dillon's picture

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Discussions

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 16, 2020 4:58 pm GMT

Robert, do several sets of wires hang from utility poles in Florida, from which customers can choose their provider of electricity?

If not, freedom of choice does not exist in Florida electricity, and "Energy Choice" is but an opportunity to peddle an imaginary product offering no additional value whatsoever to customers.

Informally, some might call that a "scam" - maybe even the justices on Florida's Supreme Court.

Victoria Hudson's picture
Victoria Hudson on Jan 16, 2020 5:10 pm GMT

Thanks for that question, Bob. I wondered how this would work, and I also wondered what specifically the Supreme Court found misleading in the ballot inititiative (comparing what was stated with what the court found would answer plenty of questions for consumers). 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 16, 2020 5:30 pm GMT

Robert, do several sets of wires hang from utility poles in Florida, from which customers can choose their provider of electricity?

This seems like a bit of a strawman-- of course that's not the case, but no proponents of deregulation have every claimed that this was the goal. Having customers go from absolutely no choice to having a say in which electric supplier they are paying for their power usage and thus compensating for their generation is a degree of choice. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. 

If not, freedom of choice does not exist in Florida electricity

Here-- those arguing for deregulation would certainly agree that it does not exist in Florida. That's the whole point of their efforts!

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 16, 2020 8:00 pm GMT

Matt, does any electricity customer really have a say, not in which electricity supplier they are paying for their power usage, but who's actually delivering it?

In California, customers are shocked to learn our "Community Choice Aggregators," who supposedly offer them a choice of different power plans, are not only completely unregulated by the California Public Utilities Commission - they aren't required to divulge specifics of their sources of electricity. That local CCAs are actually paying the utility they were supposedly replacing to deliver up to 90% of the same electricity they delivered before, at a markup.*

An analogy: before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was established in 1906, you had no idea what was in the hot dog you bought from the corner store - and needless to say, virtually any/all parts of the animal, and even floor sweepings that weren't poisonous, were tossed into the vat together.

Unregulated electricity may not be dangerous, but there's no guarantee the "100% renewable" plan for which you're paying extra isn't some coal plant in Wyoming selling electricity for pennies on the dollar. More importantly, there's no way to find out.

How can a competitive free market function when a product's value is invisible?

*(onedit): you might ask how I would know that, if CCAs' records were inaccessible. Here's how: I've seen a major utility's sales records showing they provided more than 90% of a local CCA's electricity from the same grid mix customers were receiving before. The utility's records are, under California Public Utility Code, required to be available to the public.

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