Florida Public Service Commission

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Florida Public Service Commission
Commission overview
Formed1887 (1887)
JurisdictionState of Florida
HeadquartersTallahassee, Florida
Commission executives
  • Art Graham, Chairman
  • Julie Imanuel Brown, Commissioner
  • Donald Polmann, Commissioner
  • Gary F. Clark, Commissioner
  • Andrew Giles Fay, Commissioner
WebsiteOfficial 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, Julie I. Brown, Donald Polmann, Gary F. Clark, Andrew Giles Fay.

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
  • 1899- First decision issued. Affirmed Atlantic, Valdosta and Western Railway the right to enter and use Jacksonville Union Terminal[1]
  • 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[clarification needed]
  • 1974- Rate structure jurisdiction over municipal and rural cooperative electric utilities added
  • 1978- Airlines were deregulated[clarification needed]
  • 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.

Florida Public Service Commissioners[edit]

Chairman Art 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 has served two terms as Commission Chairman: January 2014 through January 2016, and October 2010 through January 2012. During both terms, he worked with his colleagues and industry representatives to find ways to hold down rates for Florida's consumers and businesses.

Chairman Graham is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). In January 2015, he was appointed Co-Vice Chair of the NARUC Committee on Water, which he has served on since 2010. Prior to his appointment as Chairman, he served on the Jacksonville City Council. Among his duties as Council Member, Chairman 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 Council. He was President of ART Environmental Consulting Services from 2005 to 2009, and worked on electric power generating boilers and wastewater reduction as a recovery engineer with Georgia Pacific Pulp and Paper from 1995 to 2002. A sales engineer with Betz PaperChem from 1991 to 1995, Chairman 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.

He 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 Julie Imanuel Brown was reappointed to the Florida Public Service Commission by Governor Rick Scott for a four-year term beginning January 2, 2015 and ending January 1, 2019. Elected to Chair the Commission, effective January 2, 2016, she will serve as Commission Chairman until January 2018. Chairman Brown was first appointed to the Commission by Governor Charlie Crist and was 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. She also worked as a corporate attorney at Shumaker, Loop and 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 NARUC's Committee on Gas, Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues–Waste Disposal, and on the Gas Technology Institute's Public Interest Advisory Committee; she previously served on NARUC's Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment. A member of the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition since 2011, she was recently elected to serve on its Executive Committee to lead the group's efforts to expand membership.

Commissioner Brown chaired the Florida Legislature's Study Committee on Investor-Owned Water and Wastewater Utility Systems and serves 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, and the Florida Bar's 13th Judicial Circuit Bar Grievance 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, is a member of the Florida Bar, and a member of Leadership Florida, Class XXXIII. Her graduate education included study abroad at the University of Montpellier College of Law in France.

Commissioner Donald J. Polmann was appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) by Governor Rick Scott for a term beginning January 2, 2017.

Prior to his appointment to the PSC, Commissioner Polmann served as Director of Science and Engineering for Tampa Bay Water, the largest wholesale drinking water supplier in the Southeastern United States. Commissioner Polmann was responsible for strategic planning, engineering and permitting; future needs analysis incorporating risk and reliability; capital, energy, and conservation plans; water-use and environmental permits and compliance; resource management and supply development; and regulatory agency relations. He also served as a primary negotiator on complex permits, rules, settlements, and contracts. Commissioner Polmann had a major role supporting the agency's public-private partnership engagements for alternative supplies and regional infrastructure. The regional water supply authority meets Tampa Bay's drinking water needs with a diverse, flexible supply network, and state-of-the-art water quality monitoring; the region's water is blended from three different sources: groundwater, surface water, and desalinated seawater.

Commissioner Polmann also served as a consulting engineer in private practice for a decade, most recently at ATKINS as Senior Project Director for public sector clients concerning water and environment. Before this, at AMEC in environmental and water resource engineering for a broad set of public and private clients.

His undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering, with a Minor in Economics, is from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Commissioner Polmann holds a master's degree in Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a member of the External Advisory Board for the University of Florida Engineering School of Sustainable infrastructure and Environment. He was named Florida Government Engineer of the Year and is a current member of the Florida Engineering Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the American Geophysical Union. Commissioner Polmann is a past member, Board of Directors, WateReuse Research Foundation. He is a graduate, Class of 2004, of the Florida Engineering Leadership Institute. Dr. Polmann's special interests include volunteer work in public schools.

He has lived in Florida since 1969. He is married with two children.

Commissioner Gary F. Clark was appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) by Governor Rick Scott on September 15, 2017 to fill an unexpired term.

Prior to his appointment to the PSC, Commissioner Clark most recently served as the Deputy Secretary of Land and Recreation for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, where he oversaw the 174 state parks and trails, and the Division of State Lands. In this role, he also served as the chair of the Florida Acquisition and Restoration Council and as chairman of the governing board of the Florida Communities Trust.

Commissioner Clark spent the majority of his professional career at West Florida Electric, where he served as the Vice President of Member Services. During his tenure, Commissioner Clark worked in many areas of the company and led the company's diversification efforts. He served for many years as a member of the Association of Energy Engineers where he also earned the distinction as Certified Energy Manager.

Commissioner Clark is recognized for his leadership and service to his community. He has served in several capacities including Washington County School Board member, Chipola College Board of Trustees, Washington County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Northwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board. Because of his noteworthy leadership, he has received numerous awards and recognitions.

Commissioner Clark is a graduate of Chipola College and the University of Phoenix and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. A lifelong resident of Washington County, he has owned and managed several small business operations in Northwest Florida. Commissioner Clark and his wife have two children.

Andrew Giles Fay was appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission by Governor Rick Scott for a term ending on January 1, 2022. Commissioner Fay comes from the Office of the Attorney General, where he served as Special Counsel and Director of Legislative Affairs, Cabinet Affairs, and Public Policy.

As counsel to the Attorney General, Commissioner Fay worked directly with the Power Plant Siting Act, assisting on issues associated with the Florida Cabinet's consideration of electric facility construction and upgrades. Commissioner Fay also served as an advisor to the Attorney General in her work on the Constitution Revision Commission, providing research and information on the energy industry.

Commissioner Fay served under Attorney General Pam Bondi since her office was established in 2011. First serving as Assistant Attorney General, he was the lead attorney on all Legislative matters and also drafted legislation most notably Florida's Information Protection Act (FIPA).

In 2016, Commissioner Fay was named Government Attorney of the Year by the Florida Government Bar Association for his work assisting victims of the attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. He was also recognized by Florida Trend Magazine as a Legal Elite Government Lawyer in 2016 and 2017.

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Commission's First Ruling". The Anniston Star. Anniston, AL. September 10, 1899. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read

External links[edit]