Florida Public Service Commission
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The Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) is a five-member state board that regulates private utility and telecommunications companies in Florida.
|Jurisdiction||State of Florida|
In the utility industry, the 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 FPSC members are appointed by the Governor of Florida and confirmed by the Florida Senate. Commissioners serve four-year terms. One commissioner is chair, elected by the commissioners for a two-year term.
The commissioners are Chairman Gary F. Clark, Art Graham, Andrew Giles Fay, and Mike La Rosa.
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
- 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 FPSC jurisdiction over telecommunications was reduced
The Governor appoints the commissioners, who are then confirmed by the Florida Senate. Commissioners serve four year terms. Prior to 1979, three Commissioners were elected in a statewide election. The 1978 Legislature changed the FPSC to a five-member appointed board.
The chair is the chief administrative officer of the FPSC , presiding at all hearings and conferences when present, setting FPSC hearings, and performing those duties prescribed by law. The chairis elected by the FPSC .
Gary F. Clark was reappointed to the FPSC by Governor Rick Scott for a term ending on January 1, 2023. He was first appointed in 2017. Clark was elected chair from January 2020 through January 2022.
Art Graham was appointed by Crist in July 2010. He was twice reappointed by Scott, most recently for a term through January 2022. He was elected Chair from January 2018 through January 2020. Graham has served two previous terms as Chair.
Andrew Giles Fay was appointed by Scott for a term ending on January 1, 2022.
Mike La Rosa was appointed by Governor DeSantis for a term beginning January 2, 2021.
Gabriella Passidomo was appointed by Governor DeSantis for a term through January 1, 2023.
The Florida Legislature established the powers and responsibilities of the FPSC as a regulator of public utilities under its jurisdiction. This includes electric, natural gas, telephone, water, and wastewater. the FPSC exercises the following regulator authority:
- Rate base/economic regulation - analyzing requested rate changes and conducting earnings surveillance to ensure that regulated utilities are not exceeding their authorized rates of return.
- Competitive market oversight - facilitating the development of competitive markets and issues associated with them.
- Safety, reliability, and service -monitoring - promoting 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 five investor-owned electric companies, seven investor-owned natural gas utilities, and 149 investor-owned water and/or wastewater utilities. The FPSCU also 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 FPSC 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 consumer forums, community meetings, and customer meetings and hearings and consumer publications. The FPSC participates in consumer programs and distributes conservation-related materials through partnerships with governmental entities, and consumer groups.
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.
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 ServiceEdit
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 FPSC 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.
- "Commission's First Ruling". The Anniston Star. Anniston, AL. September 10, 1899. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.