Governor DeSantis will make two appointments to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) out of six finalists who were sent to the governor on Tuesday by the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council (PSCNC).
The two positions are opening due to current commission members Art Graham and Andrew Fay’s terms expiring in January 2022 – both of whom are among the six finalists and looking for reappointment.
The other four finalists are; civil engineer Ria Lee Shue Ling, 15-year disaster recovery specialist Belinda Little-Wood, senior marketing coordinator for HNTB Corp, Steven Petty, and executive consultant for Strategic Leadership and Risk Management, Anibal Taboas.
Graham has been part of the PSC for 11 years after being appointed by former Governor Charlie Crist in 2010 and appointed twice more by former Governor Rick Scott. During the nominating council’s meeting on Tuesday, the six finalists were briefly asked questions regarding their platforms. Graham stressed that the PSC’s budget has decreased by $2 million since 2010 and that average electric bills have increased by an average of $3.08 across the state.
Fay, who was also appointed to the PSC by Scott, worked previously as deputy to former Attorney General Pam Bondi. When questioned, Fay highlighted issues like renewable energy and the need to protect power grids that supply utilities, against cybersecurity threats.
Fay and Graham both talked about the utility rate increases but highlighted the low overturn rate when it comes to decisions made by the PSC. Fay even went as far to suggest that there has yet to be a decision that was overturned since he was appointed in 2018.
“I have been on the commission since 2018 and ruled on nearly 500 dockets at this point, and I’m proud to say not a single one of those dockets has been overturned by an appellate court,” he said.
However, Taboas suggested that the seats need to be filled with individuals dedicated to public service and not individuals who want the seat for political purposes.
Taboas told the nominating council, “There are many lessons that should have been learned, like that there’s a lack of understanding of the gravity that climate change is a reality. Just look at the water levels, the toxic air, and the service interruptions.”
He added, “And second, there are serious issues regarding equity and sustainability. Just as recent examples, California has just learned that it’s important to bury power lines… Texas recently learned that inspection and maintenance is not an option, and it’s a lot more than just an inconvenience.”
DeSantis has 30 days to select the two appointees for the position. The PSC regulates utilities like Florida Power and Light, Duke Energy Florida, and Tampa Electric Company, as well as companies dealing with water, natural-gas, and telecommunications.
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]