Florida Public Service Commission

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Florida Public Service Commission
Commission overview
Formed 1887 (1887)
Jurisdiction State of Florida
Headquarters Tallahassee, Florida
Commission executives Art Graham, Chairman
Lisa Polak Edgar, Commissioner
Ronald A. Brisé, Commissioner
Julie Imanuel Brown, Commissioner
Jimmy Patronis, Commissioner
Braulio L. Baez, Executive Director
Charlie Beck, General Counsel
Website Official website

The Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) regulates investor-owned electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater utilities. In the telecommunications industry, the FPSC facilitates competitive markets, has authority over intercarrier disputes, and oversees pay telephones, the federal Lifeline Assistance Program and Telecommunications Relay Service.

The Florida Public Service Commission consists of five members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Commissioners serve four-year terms. One commissioner is a designated Chairman, elected by the Commission for a two-year term.

The commissioners are Chairman Art Graham, Lisa Polak Edgar, Ronald A. Brisé, Julie I. Brown, and Jimmy Patronis.


History[edit]

Created by the Florida Legislature in *1887, the FPSC was originally called the Florida Railroad Commission and primarily regulated railroad passenger and freight rates and operations. As Florida grew, the Commission’s purpose expanded.

  • 1887- Florida Railroad Commission was established, Chapter 3746
  • 1891- Repeal of Chapter 4068, abolishing the Florida Railroad Commission
  • 1897- Enactment of Chapter 4700, re-establishing the Florida Railroad Commission
  • 1911- Jurisdiction over telephone services added
  • 1929- Jurisdiction over motor carrier transportation added
  • 1947- Name changed to Florida Railroad and Public Utilities Commission
  • 1951- Jurisdiction over investor-owned electric utilities added
  • 1952- Jurisdiction over investor-owned natural gas utilities and safety-only for municipally owned gas utilities added
  • 1959- Jurisdiction over privately owned water and wastewater companies added
  • 1963- Name changed to Florida Public Utilities Commission
  • 1965- Name changed to Florida Public Service Commission
  • 1974- Rate structure jurisdiction over municipal and rural cooperative electric utilities added
  • 1979- Commission composition changed from three elected to five appointed Commissioners
  • 1980- Motor carriers were deregulated[who?]
  • 1985- Railroads were deregulated[who?]
  • 1986- Safety jurisdiction over all electric utilities added
  • 1992- Jurisdiction over intrastate natural gas pipelines added
  • 1995- Legislature opened up local telecommunications market to increased competition

2011- The Commission's jurisdiction over telecommunications was reduced

Structure[edit]

The Florida Public Service Commission consists of five members selected for their knowledge and experience in one or more fields. These fields include economics, accounting, engineering, finance, natural resource conservation, energy, public affairs, and law.

A Commissioner is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Commissioners serve terms of four years. Prior to 1979, three Commissioners were elected in a statewide election. The 1978 Legislature changed the Commission to a five-member appointed board.

The Chairman is the chief administrative officer of the Commission, presiding at all hearings and conferences when present, setting Commission hearings, and performing those duties prescribed by law. The Chairman is elected by the Commission.

Commissioners[edit]

The current Florida Public Service Commissioners are:

  • Art Graham, Chairman (Appointed through 01/01/2018)
  • Lisa Polak Edgar (Appointed through 01/01/2017)
  • Ronald A. Brisé (Appointed through 01/01/2018)
  • Julie I. Brown (Appointed through 01/01/2019)
  • Jimmy Patronis (Appointed through 01/01/2019)


Graham was appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission by Governor Charlie Crist in July 2010 and was reappointed by Governor Rick Scott for a term through January 2018. He is also Commission Chairman, serving his second term. Previously he chaired the Commission from October 2010 through January 1, 2012

Edgar was appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) by Governor Jeb Bush for a four-year term beginning January 2005. Governor Charlie Crist reappointed Commissioner Edgar to a second four-year term in 2008, and Governor Rick Scott reappointed her to a third four-year term in 2012.

Brisé was appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission by Governor Charlie Crist in July 2010 and was reappointed by Governor Rick Scott for a term through January 2018. He served as Commission Chairman in 2012-2013.

Brown was reappointed to the Florida Public Service Commission by Governor Rick Scott for a four-year term beginning January 2, 2015. She was first appointed to the Commission by Governor Charlie Crist and was also reappointed by Governor Rick Scott for a four-year term beginning January 2, 2011. Prior to her appointment, she was Associate Legal Counsel of First American Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, where she handled a variety of legal issues in the Eastern, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic Regions, including corporate compliance with regulatory authorities.

Patronis was appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) by Governor Rick Scott for a four-year term beginning January 2015. Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Patronis represented District 6 (Bay County) in the Florida House of Representatives.

Jurisdiction[edit]

The Florida Legislature established the powers and responsibilities of the Florida Public Service Commission as a regulator of public utilities under its jurisdiction. The Commission is committed to making sure that Florida’s consumers receive some of their most essential services--electric, natural gas, telephone, water, and wastewater--in a safe, reasonable, and reliable manner. In doing so, the PSC exercises regulatory authority over utilities in one or more of three key areas: rate base/economic regulation; competitive market oversight; and monitoring of safety, reliability, and service issues. Those areas are briefly described as follows:


Rate base/economic regulation involves analyzing requested rate changes and conducting earnings surveillance to ensure that regulated utilities are not exceeding their authorized rates of return;


Competitive market oversight entails facilitating the development of competitive markets and issues associated with them; and


Safety, reliability, and service monitoring promotes an uninterrupted supply of utility services to the general public, and confirms that such services are provided in a reasonable and timely manner with minimal risks.



In 2014, the FPSC regulated 5 investor-owned electric companies, 7 investor-owned natural gas utilities, and 149 investor-owned water and/or wastewater utilities and had competitive market oversight for 361 telecommunications companies in Florida.

The FPSC does not regulate the rates and service quality of publicly owned municipal or cooperative electric utilities; however, the Commission does have jurisdiction regarding rate structure, territorial boundaries, bulk power supply operations, and power supply planning over 35 municipally owned electric systems and 18 rural electric cooperatives. The FPSC has jurisdiction regarding territorial boundaries and safety, over 27 municipally owned natural gas utilities and 4 gas districts. In addition, the Commission exercises safety authority over all electric and natural gas systems operating in the state.


Consumer Information[edit]

By providing effective consumer assistance, protection, and education, the FPSC accomplishes its mission of assisting consumers and educating the public about the changing regulatory environment. The FPSC participates in a variety of outreach events, such as consumer forums, community meetings, and customer meetings and hearings, by presenting pertinent information and distributing a variety of consumer publications. Making sure that consumers have easy access to information ensures that they can make informed decisions about utility services.

The FPSC participates in consumer programs and distributes conservation-related materials through partnerships with governmental entities, consumer groups, and many other organizations.

Each year, the FPSC provides educational brochures to Florida public libraries for consumer distribution. The Commission has recently increased its Library Outreach Campaign participants to educate consumers across the state. Through the program, a variety of FPSC publications highlighting practical energy and water conservation measures are distributed to library patrons throughout the year.

Events to promote energy efficiency and conservation education are annually observed during October’s Energy Action Month, sponsored annually by the U.S. Department of Energy.

National Consumer Protection Week observed each year in March, highlights consumer protection and education efforts around the country, and is important to the FPSC’s conservation education efforts.


LIFELINE ASSISTANCE

The Florida Lifeline program is part of the federal Universal Service Program (USP) designed to enable low-income households to obtain and maintain basic local telephone service. The Lifeline program offers qualifying households a minimum $9.25 discount on their monthly phone bills, or a free Lifeline cell phone and monthly minutes from certain wireless providers.


Eighty-eight local, state, and federal agencies, organizations, and businesses, and 22 telecommunications companies were involved in the collaborative effort to increase awareness and participation in the Lifeline program in 2014. Promotional activities in 2014 featured National Lifeline Awareness Week, National Consumer Protection Week, Older American’s Month and ongoing “grass roots” efforts to increase awareness and enrollment in the programs. Each month, the FPSC sends a cover letter and informational packet to two organizations to encourage continued Lifeline outreach to their eligible clientele. In addition, the FPSC attends as least two community events each month to promote Lifeline.


As of June 2014, 957,792 eligible customers participated in the Florida Lifeline program. The six companies with the highest Lifeline enrollment in Florida were SafeLink Wireless, Assurance Wireless, i-wireless, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon with 98.7 percent of the Florida Lifeline customers.


FLORIDA RELAY SERVICE

The FPSC oversees the administration of a statewide telecommunications access system to provide access to Telecommunications Relay Services by persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, or others who communicate with them.


In early 2014, AT&T notified the Commission that it was opting out of its contract options, so the FPSC issued a Request for Proposals for a new Relay Service Provider. Based on a competitive bid evaluation process, the Commission awarded a three-year contract with Sprint Communications Company, L.P. (Sprint) to provide telecommunications relay service to the nearly three million hard-of-hearing, deaf, deaf/blind, and speech impaired Floridians. Service begins June 1, 2015. Of the two companies bidding, Sprint received the highest technical rating and offered the lowest overall per-minute cost for service. Sprint was the only bidder proposing to hire an in-state Customer Relations Manager. Sprint also proposed to designate a Florida Relay Quality Manager.

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