Shop for electricity? Florida voters could decide in 2020.
A petition for a ballot measure that could potentially reinvent Florida’s electric utility industry is headed to the Florida Supreme Court.
The petition reached the threshold of 76,632 signatures required to be reviewed by Attorney General Ashley Moody and soon after, Florida’s highest court, according to Alex Patton, the chairman of Citizens for Energy Choices political committee.
The proposal, put forward by the political committee, calls for the customer’s “right to choose” and would loosen the grip of private utility monopolies like Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power, Duke Energy and Tampa Electric Company. It would allow customers to pick their electricity providers from a competitive market or give them more options to produce solar energy themselves.
The language aims to protect customers against deceptive or unfair practices and establish an independent market to make energy sales competitive, the Alachua-based committee says.
The committee had raised more than $1.1 million as of Dec. 31, with all seven donations coming from Coalition for Energy Choice, Inc., an Alachua nonprofit. So far, it has spent about $574,080 on mainly petition verification and signature gathering.
The proposal says nothing in the language should be interpreted to affect the existing rights of utility companies or the state’s policies on energy. But utilities fear more competition and more rooftop solar means lower costs and therefore, lower bottom lines for the regulated monopolies.
“The longer-term threat of fully exiting from the grid [or customers solely using the electric grid for backup purposes] raises the potential for irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects,” wrote the Edison Electric Institute, the investor-owned utility trade group, in a 2013 report.
Opponents have also said the market changes would be complicated and that customers would not save much in costs.