Florida Public Service Commission
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 current commissioners are Chairman Ronald A. Brisé, Lisa Polak Edgar, Art Graham, Eduardo E. Balbis, and Julie Brown.
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
1972- Jurisdiction over airlines added
1974- Rate structure jurisdiction over municipal and rural cooperative electric utilities added
1978- Airlines were deregulated
1979- Commission composition changed from three elected to five appointed Commissioners
1980- Motor carriers were deregulated
1985- Railroads were deregulated
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
To facilitate the efficient provision of safe and reliable utility services at fair prices.
The Florida Public Service Commission consists of five members selected for their knowledge and experience in one or more fields substantially related to the duties and functions of the Commission. 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.
Current Florida Public Service Commissioners
The current Florida Public Service Commissioners are:
Ronald A. Brisé, Chairman (Appointed through 01/01/14)
Lisa Polak Edgar (Appointed through 01/01/17)
Art Graham (Appointed through 01/01/14)
Eduardo E. Balbis (Appointed through 01/01/15)
Julie I. Brown (Appointed through 01/01/15)
Florida Public Service Commissioners
Chairman Ronald A. 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 2014. In December 2011, he was elected to Chair the Commission through January 1, 2014.
Chairman Brisé is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and serves on the Board of Directors, the Task Force on Federalism and Telecommunications, the Committee on Telecommunications, the Committee on International Relations, and the Subcommittee on Utility Market Access. Chairman Brisé also serves on the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Company and the Federal Communications Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee. Before this appointment, he served the citizens of North East Miami-Dade (District 108) in the Florida House of Representatives for four years.
As a Representative, Chairman Brisé was named Democratic Whip from 2006 to 2008 and served as Vice Chairman of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators. He served on the Education & Economic Development Appropriations, General Government & Health Care Appropriations, and Select Strategic & Economic Planning Councils, was the Ranking Member on the State & Community Colleges and Workforce Appropriation Committee and served on the State Universities & Private Colleges Policy Committee. He also served on the Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations and the Energy & Utilities Policy Committees. Most notably as a legislator, Chairman Brisé sponsored successful legislation to expand broadband deployment throughout the State of Florida making it possible for underserved areas to have access to broadband technology. He was also successful in passing legislation to provide relief from garnishment to heads of families by increasing the amount of retainable earnings before garnishment.
Recently, Chairman Brisé was the Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Partner Consulting, LLC, which provides leadership and development strategies for corporate clients. Until 2008, Chairman Brisé was also the Chief Operating Officer for IPIP Corporation, a VoIP telecommunications carrier. Prior to this, he was the Science Department Chairperson at Miami Union Academy from 2000 to 2005 and was also the Academy’s Director of Development, Marketing, and Recruitment from 2003 to 2005.
Chairman Brisé served as a member of the North Miami Planning Commission and is a past president of the Albert C. Pierre Community Center. He is a member of the NAACP and a member on the boards of the Haitian-American Scholarship Fund and Miami Union Academy.
Chairman Brisé received a bachelor’s degree in biology education from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama and received MBA degrees in management and marketing from American Intercontinental University in Illinois.
Commissioner Lisa Polak 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. From January 2006 to January 2008, she served as Chairman and participated as a member of the Florida Energy Commission and the Governor's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change.
Commissioner Edgar is a member and Second Vice President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). She serves on NARUC’s Executive Committee, Board of Directors, the Committees on Electricity and Consumer Affairs, and the Task Force on Environmental Regulation and Generation. From 2005 through 2009, she served on the Federal Communications Commission Universal Service Joint Board working for efficient, accountable and fiscally responsible use of universal service funds.
Commissioner Edgar has worked to develop policies to strengthen the state’s electric infrastructure to better prepare for, and withstand, storm events; to establish net metering and interconnection rules that encourage customer participation and renewable energy development; to further the diversification of Florida’s fuel supply; to effectively reform the collection and distribution of universal service funds; and to improve customer satisfaction and broaden stakeholder participation.
Prior to joining the PSC, Commissioner Edgar served as Deputy Secretary for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Her responsibilities at DEP included executive management oversight of the agency's $2.1 billion budget, fiscal and strategic planning, accountability measures, information technology, administrative services, Florida Geological Survey, and coordination between the state and federal government on environmental issues, including proposed and existing oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. Commissioner Edgar represented the State of Florida on the Minerals Management Service Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Policy Committee from 1993-2004, and on the Subcommittees on Environmental Studies in OCS Areas under Moratoria and OCS Hard Minerals.
Commissioner Edgar received her Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctorate degrees from Florida State University and is a member of the Florida Bar. She is a member of Leadership Florida and the Capital Tiger Bay Club, and serves on the Board of Directors of Sustainable Florida.
Commissioner Art Graham was appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission by Governor Charlie Crist in July 2010 and was reappointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve a term through January 2014. From October 2010 through January 1, 2012, Commissioner Graham served as Commission Chairman and worked with his colleagues and industry representatives to find ways to hold down rates for Florida's consumers and businesses.
Commissioner Graham is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and serves on the Committee on Water. Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Graham served on the Jacksonville City Council. Among his duties as Council Member, Commissioner Graham helped oversee the budget of JEA, a publicly owned electric, water, and wastewater utility, and chaired the Transportation, Energy, and Utilities Committee. He also served on the Jacksonville Beach City Council from 1998 to 2002.
He is a past chair of the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization and vice president of the Northeast Florida Regional Planning Association. He was President of ART Environmental Consulting Services from 2005 to 2009 and was a recovery engineer with Georgia Pacific Pulp and Paper from 1995 to 2002. A sales engineer with Betz PaperChem from 1991 to 1995, Commissioner Graham was a regional sales manager from 1989 to 1991 for Goodyear Tire and Rubber, where he also held an application engineer position from 1988 to 1989.
Commissioner Graham received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. He is also a 2001 graduate of Leadership Jacksonville and a 2008 graduate of Leadership Florida.
Commissioner Eduardo E. Balbis was appointed by Governor Charlie Crist to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) and reappointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve a four-year term through January 1, 2015. Commissioner Balbis began serving on the PSC in November 2010, when Governor Crist appointed him to fill an unexpired term through January 1, 2011.
A member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), Commissioner Balbis serves on the Committees on Gas and on Critical Infrastructure. Prior to serving on the PSC, Commissioner Balbis was the Assistant City Administrator for the City of West Palm Beach, where he managed the Public Utilities, Public Works, and Engineering Departments, comprising more than 400 employees. He oversaw major upgrades to the City’s Water Treatment Plant that significantly improved the City’s drinking water quality, and he coordinated the planning efforts for long term improvements to the City’s water treatment plant to bring important operational and capital savings.
As Assistant City Administrator, Commissioner Balbis was also responsible for the management of Grassy Waters Preserve. This pristine, 20-square-mile wetland ecosystem serves as a habitat for many protected species, including the Everglades Snail Kite, and is the primary source of drinking water for the City of West Palm Beach and the Towns of Palm Beach and South Palm Beach.
Commissioner Balbis previously served as Chairman of the Board of the East Central Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility, which benefits more than 239,000 customers in Palm Beach County. As Chairman, he helped bring to fruition one of the largest conservation projects in Florida: a 27 million gallon-per-day water reuse project that provides treated wastewater in lieu of groundwater to cool a 3,750 MW power plant.
Previously appointed by Governor Crist to the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, Commissioner Balbis worked with other council members on complex regional development issues and projects affecting Palm Beach, Martin, Indian River and St. Lucie Counties. His prior experience also includes working in the private sector for national engineering firms specializing in the design of large utility infrastructure projects.
A lifelong Florida resident, Commissioner Balbis graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Environmental Engineering and is a Licensed Professional Engineer.
Commissioner Julie Imanuel Brown was appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission by Governor Charlie Crist and 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.
Previously an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Tampa, Commissioner Brown specialized in contract, regulatory and administrative law while acting as legal advisor to the City of Tampa for wastewater, stormwater, land development coordination, and other matters. Commissioner Brown also worked as a corporate attorney at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Tampa, Florida, specializing in mergers and acquisitions and securities law.
Commissioner Brown is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and serves on the Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment and the Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues – Waste Disposal. She serves by appointment as Chair of the Florida Legislature’s Study Committee on Investor-Owned Water and Wastewater Utility Systems, and on the New Mexico State University’s Center for Public Utilities Advisory Council. Her civic affiliations have included the City of Tampa’s Architectural Review Commission, the Board of Directors for the Tampa Firefighters Museum, the Florida Bar’s 13th Judicial Circuit Bar Grievance Committee, and acting as Vice Chair of the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Judicial Campaign Practices Committee.
Commissioner Brown graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida, where she was the recipient of the Outstanding Female Leader award, President of Florida Blue Key, inducted into the Hall of Fame, and received the Dean’s Cup for the College of Journalism and Communications. She earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar. Her graduate education included study abroad at the University of Montpellier College of Law in France.
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 ensures 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.
The FPSC currently regulates 5 investor-owned electric companies, 7 investor-owned natural gas utilities, and 140 investor-owned water and/or wastewater utilities and had competitive market oversight for 419 telecommunications companies in Florida.
While 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.
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.
More than 330 Florida public and branch libraries participated in the FPSC’s 2012 Library Outreach Program 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.
National Consumer Protection Week highlights consumer protection and education efforts around the country, and is important to the FPSC’s conservation education efforts.
In 2012, sponsored annually by the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Awareness Month was rebranded as Energy Action Month to reinforce the need to act on implementing energy efficiencies.
The Lifeline Assistance (Lifeline) program in Florida, is part of the federal Universal Service Program (USP) designed for low-income households to obtain at least a $9.25 discount on their monthly phone bills or receive a free Lifeline cell phone and monthly minutes.
Sixty-seven local, state, and federal agencies, organizations, and businesses, and 27 telecommunications companies were involved in the collaborative effort to increase awareness and participation in the Lifeline program in 2012. Promotional activities featured National Lifeline Awareness Week, National Consumer Protection Week, the Connect Florida Campaign, and ongoing grassroots efforts to increase awareness and enrollment in the programs.
The number of eligible customers participating in the Lifeline program in Florida grew 9.7 percent during the July 2011 through June 2012 annual review period. As of June, more than one million eligible customers participated in the Lifeline program. The five companies with the highest Lifeline enrollment in Florida are SafeLink, Assurance Wireless, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon. As of June, SafeLink had 430,048 Lifeline customers; Assurance Wireless had 428,830; AT&T had 102,363; CenturyLink had 35,154; and Verizon had 18,496 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.
Based on a competitive bid evaluation process, the Commission awarded the new Relay provider contract to AT&T, effective June 1, 2012, for a period of three years ending May 31, 2015. The winning AT&T bid included a new Relay Call Center in Miami, which opened August 14, 2012.