Public Utilities

public utiltiesPublic Utilities are services that the public use.  Overtime, the word “public utilities” has come to refer to water, natural gas, electricity, sewage, telephone, and transportation. These days, broadband internet services (both fixed-line and mobile) are being used more and more in the definition of the term ‘public utilities.’

Public Utilities in the USA

In the USA, public utilities often become natural monopolies due to the fact that public utilities are expensive to build and maintain.  However, in many states, thanks to the 1990’s federal legislation passed requiring the electric and natural gas public utility companies to make their access channels available to market retail companies, now consumers in those energy deregulated states can choose which utility company they wish to supply them, thus saving money and ensuring healthy competition and better customer service.

Energy Deregulation in Florida

In 2001, a Florida study was undertaken to review, and evaluate the electricity market in order to formulate a plan for future changes to benefit the state.

The study concluded that energy regulation in Florida worked well both for the consumer having reliable electricity in natural disaster events and the supplier who are almost certain to profit.

The study found that:

  • Florida has an adequate supply of reasonably priced electricity
  • There are numerous participants in Florida’s energy market, including 56
  • electric utilities, consisting of five IOUs, 17 cooperatively owned utilities,
  • and 34 municipally owned utilities, and approximately 60 non-utility
  • generators (cogenerators and peakers)
  • Electric rates have been stable in Florida for more than a decade and,
  • when adjusted for inflation, have declined by 38 percent since 1984
  • electric rate of 7.1 cents per kilowatt hour (KWH) is
  • slightly above the national average of 6.7 cents per KWH
  • Florida’s electric utility industry has provided reliable service at
  • reasonable prices, despite the fact that Florida produces no generating
  • fuels and all fuels must be transported long distances to the Florida plants
  • and the fact that Florida had rapid growth over the last ten years
  • Based on current utility plans and projections, for the summer of 2002
  • Florida will have a total of 48,611 megawatts (MW) of generating assets
  • available in Florida to serve a total firm peak demand of 39,469 MW,
  • giving Florida a 23 percent reserve margin
  • While peak demand will increase by over 9,700 MW over the next ten
  • years, peninsular Florida electric utilities plan to build or acquire
  • approximately 15,200 MW of new generating capacity during that time

Public Utilities and Energy Deregulation Proposal in 2017

In November 20, 2017, a group proposed energy deregulation to increase healthy competition, reduction in prices, and better customer services.

However, some are opposed to the proposal saying that it would negatively impact municipally owned utilities.

In order to pass the proposal 60% of the Constitutional Revision Commission’s 37 members would have to approve it before being passed to a general vote.
The ramifications of such a bill being passed would mean that Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), which generates one third of the city’s annual general fund budget, would be negatively impacted by a reduced customer base. This change would, in turn, impact services and funding provided by the city of Gainesville. In short, an approval to deregulate energy, giving the customer freedom of choice, isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

If the proposal was passed, and voted in, the earliest the changes would take place would be in 2021.

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