The Florida Public Service Commission is the most powerful Florida political body you’ve never heard of nor voted for, and it’s about to get a new member. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor. This five-member commission regulates all investor-owned utilities in the state, including privatized water utilities, telecommunications utilities, natural gas utilities, and the four major investor-owned monopoly utilities: Florida Power and Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Company, and the Florida Public Utilities Company. The public service commission approves how much utilities can charge their customers, what projects and initiatives they can spend their money on, the amount they can send back to their shareholders, and more.
Florida’s PSC recently lost one commissioner when Governor Ron Desantis appointed commissioner Julie Immanuel Brown (the only woman serving on the commission) to serve as Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation this past February. Brown’s departure means the appointment process for a new commissioner is on. This new commissioner will almost immediately be called upon to rule on several massive new “rate cases” which will determine the rates Floridians pay for energy over the next four years, and what projects utilities may spend that extra money on.
Rate cases are no small matter. Florida Power and Light in particular is requesting the ability to collect an additional $2 billion from customers in order to fund a large amount of new natural gas infrastructure and increase the share of guaranteed profits the company may send back to shareholders. This rate increase could see customer bills increase by 18%.
The appointment process starts in the legislature with the appointment of a Public Service Commission nominating council made up of both elected officials and appointees. When a position opens up, the nominating council receives applications and selects three or more potential nominees to send to the Governor. The Governor then selects from among the nominees within 30 days, and the Florida Senate subsequently votes to confirm or deny them.
On April 12, the nominating council selected its four candidates. Here’s who they selected:
Rosanna Manuela Catalano, J.D
Rosana is a lobbyist, lawyer, and former associate dean of FSU law school. She currently heads the communications and consulting firm Rocket Ship Consultants, LLC and has had utilities as clients.
Gabriella Passidomo, J.D
Gabriella is a recent law school graduate who has worked for the Florida Public Service Commission for one and a half years as an attorney and has had internships with the US House of Representatives and Department of Energy under Rick Perry. She is the daughter of incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.
Representative Scott Plakon
Scott is a business owner and longtime Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives representing District 29.
Ana Ortega, M.B.A
Ana is a policy analyst who has served the Florida Public Service Commission for over a decade. She has previously served as the chief policy advisor for Public Service Commissioners Mike LaRosa, David Polman, and Lisa Edgar.
Governor DeSantis must select one of these candidates by no later than May 11.
We will keep you updated on this important process as it develops, as well as the ongoing FPL rate case. Make sure you’re subscribed to FCV’s emails to get the most up-to-date information and action alerts!