Citing a lack of sufficient evidence, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) denied the request from large industrial and commercial customers’ to “opt out” of participating in, and paying for, investor-owned utilities (IOUs) energy efficiency programs.
“While opt-out programs have been implemented in other states, there is little information on the programs’ successes and failures,” said PSC Chairman Art Graham. “Before the PSC considers such an opt out program, we must ensure that energy efficiency investments are beneficial for all customers, not for just one group.”
Agreeing that more facts are needed, Commissioners asked staff to further investigate the opt out concept and share their findings with the Commission.
The Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA) statute requires the PSC to set cost-effective conservation goals for Florida’s five IOUs and its two largest municipal utilities. FEECA allows cost recovery for programs implemented to meet the goals, such as home energy audits, attic insulation, and partial rebates for household improvements.
Wal-Mart Stores, Sam’s Club, grocery store chains, and chemical, pulp, paper, cement and phosphate plants, along with other large power users petitioned the PSC to opt out of IOU customer energy efficiency fees. Large power users contend that they do not fully use the current energy conservation programs and the money saved by opting out could be used on energy efficiency measures specifically tailored to meet their needs.
The IOUs, however, testified in a PSC hearing on July 22 that if a number of large power users opt out of the current energy efficiency programs, costs would be shifted to residential and small business customers, possibly increasing the typical monthly residential bill.
FEECA was enacted in 1980 to reduce growth rates of weather-sensitive peak electrical demand and energy consumption. Over the past 34 years, FEECA utilities’ conservation programs have avoided the need for a substantial fleet of baseload, intermediate, and peaking power plants.
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