CJG opposes Gulf Power rate hike

 

Citizens for a Just Government opposes Gulf Power rate hike

 

Citizens for a Just Government opposes Gulf Power’s proposed base rate hike, and supports any efforts by Florida’s Public Counsel to lower the company’s base rate instead.

Tracking taxpayer money is a key part of Citizens for a Just Government’s ethical oversight mission.  In its role as custodian of “other people’s money,” government is inherently susceptible to fraud, waste and abuse.  Ill-used revenues can become a self-perpetuating problem that will eventually grow government to unsustainable levels.

As a government-sponsored monopoly, Gulf Power enjoys many of the benefits of a government agency, such as a captive customer base; but escapes the responsibilities, such as transparent recordkeeping, open meetings and public accountability, of government entities.

According to Florida’s Public Counsel, Gulf Power is requesting the rate increase to cover unnecessary costs for which the company is not accountable to ratepayers; including excessive profits, Georgia-based Scherer Coal Plant expenses, salary and benefit overages and excessive payments to Gulf Power’s parent company, Southern Company.

CJG objects to Gulf Power raising rates to cover unmerited expenses.

CJG supports a government that imposes the least constraint on individual, entrepreneurial, and property rights freedoms. 

Solar power allows citizens to bypass Public Service Commission utility monopoly rate hike approval, thereby reducing government control over individual energy consumption.

According to the Public Service Commission, in December 2015, Gulf Power saw a 1.25% increase in customers for the year; but a 1.15% decrease in average annual energy consumption; which suggests customers are using less energy per capita.

It’s clear that Gulf Power is requesting the base rate hike to ensure customers who conserve energy and use alternative forms of power don’t cut into the company’s bottom line.  In effect, the rate hike would reward customers who use more energy at the expense of those who conserve.

Citizens for a Just Government opposes any taxing above and beyond the minimum needed to support the least amount of government necessary.  Debt creates a burden hard-working citizens inevitably end up having to cover. 

In the case of Gulf Power’s quasi-governmental operation; it’s clear that the company is raising rates to pay for a Georgia power generating plant that they have not demonstrated is the most cost-effective option to provide local power.  The Georgia plant would also place responsibility for future environmental cleanup costs on the shoulders of local customers, who do not participate in purchasing and operations decisions.

Citizens for a Just Government recognizes that free markets are the keystone of a healthy economy, and by extension a free and open democracy.  CJG opposes crony capitalism and avenues of government interference that rig the free market by “picking winners and losers.”

Despite the fact that they operate as a nominally “private sector” company, Gulf Power had the highest residential base rate of all Florida municipal and investor-owned utilities as of December 2015, per the Public Service Commission.

For that reason, CJG supports efforts, as described by Florida’s Public Counsel, to reduce Gulf Power’s rates, rather than increase them.

 

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