The comments below were given to the Senate Community Affairs and on March 16, 2021 by Deputy Director Jonathan Webber.
Good morning, my name is Jonathan Webber and I’m the Deputy Director of Florida Conservation Voters and we oppose this bill in its current form.
As it is right now, Floridians have little to no say on the source of power used by utilities or their associated energy infrastructure. Choice really never even enters the equation. The state determines which utility serves our homes and businesses, and, in some cases, that decision was made decades ago. A few large monopoly utilities overwhelmingly control our energy and, because of this structure, they have no real reason to listen to customer feedback. One of the only mechanisms of direct control or feedback which residents have at their disposal is through their local elected officials, who can exert some degree of pressure on utilities to get them to better respond to local needs.
The truth is that the monopoly utilities do not operate in the public interest. They are corporations and a corporation’s duty is to its shareholders. It’s their job to make a profit, but it’s our job as voters and consumers to make sure that their profit-motive aligns with our communities interests, whether through setting policies or making informed purchasing decisions.
Unfortunately, Floridians are some of the most disempowered citizens in the United States as it relates to their energy. Residents cannot select their own utilities. We cannot subscribe to power purchase agreements or third party sales. We can’t pool our resources to develop and co-own community solar facilities. And we can’t even vote on the public service commissioners who could, in theory, regulate these massive monopolies if they were so empowered. We flip the light switch and we get what we get.
Instead of expanding the power of citizens to determine their energy future, SB 1128 will further reduce the avenues for citizen input and lock in a system that has failed to respond to the needs of Floridians. The only choice this bill provides is the choice for the utilities to ignore us. Please vote no. Thank you.
FCV and our partners are working hard to defeat this bad bundle of energy preemption bills. Can you help? Email your legislators now to ask them to OPPOSE SB 1128. You can also help fuel FCV’s on-the-ground lobbying work by making a gift. Thank you, Conservation Voters!