The Pensacola News-Journal published an investigative feature story on May 19 that compares Florida’s non-competitive electricity model with the Texas competitive retail electricity market. The article considers the economic effects of competition, and the reasoning behind why utility monopolies have persisted in Florida. ACCES’ Frank Caliva commented on the policymaking process for Florida, or other states without energy choice, to restructure their markets. Caliva emphasized that the major value realized from energy choice is in customers’ increased command of their energy usage.
The Pensacola News Journal
Contact: Joseph Baucum
In what should have shocked nobody attending Gulf Power Company’s economic symposium last October, Gov. Rick Scott, minutes after taking the stage inside the conference room at the Sheraton Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach, fixated his speech on a common foil he loves to jab when waxing enthusiastic on Florida’s economy: the state of Texas and its former governor, Rick Perry.
The question remains. In a state where the majority of ratepayers are beholden to monopoly energy utilities, why has Scott, unlike Texas, abstained from pushing for competition in retail electricity?
In Florida, the majority of ratepayers live in the service area of one of four investor-owned monopolies: Florida Power & Light Company, Duke Energy of Florida, Tampa Electric or Gulf Power. Based on the most recent figures from the Energy Information Administration, the four companies supply power to about 75 percent of the state’s customers. Unlike almost every other product one purchases such as groceries or clothing, consumers have only one choice when deciding which company to patronize for electricity.
Those who have never lived outside of the state may lack the awareness that other states differ in their approach. But for residents who lived in Texas before migrating to the Sunshine State, the ability to select their electricity provider is an amenity fondly remembered but no longer afforded.
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