FPL seeking Vero Beach Council’s blessing to perform in-depth study

VERO BEACH — Representatives from Florida Power and Light sat down individually with members of the Vero Beach City Council Wednesday, seeking the government’s blessing to move forward with a more in-depth study of the city’s electrical system.

“We’ve been making some pretty broad assumptions” up to this point, FPL’s Sam Forrest told Vero Beach Mayor Jay Kramer during their meeting. Forrest is the company’s vice president of energy marketing and trading.

After the meeting, Kramer said that the discussion went about as he had expected – not many details but agreement to keep the momentum going.

He suspects that the FPL meeting will be brought up at Tuesday’s regular city council meeting where the council might choose to formally vote to give the electric utility permission to perform its due diligence.

Forrest said that process could take 60 days. After that, FPL would know what holes are still left in its information and dig in further before deciding whether or not to make an offer to buy the city’s electric utility.

That decision could happen in about a year, he said.

And if FPL were to decide to make an offer, it is not yet known how long the negotiating and sale processes could take.

“This is going to take a while,” Forrest told Kramer.

The company has yet to determine a price for the Vero Beach Electric Utility, though Forrest said $400 million would not be feasible.

“There’s a sweet spot somewhere in here,” he said of the range between $0 and $400 million where the city would be enticed to sell and FPL’s customers would not subsidize the acquisition.

Kramer was one of four council members to sit down with FPL. All but Vero Beach Councilman Craig Fletcher agreed to the individual meetings.

Fletcher declined, explaining that he would rather have a meeting with FPL with the public invited.

Councilwoman Pilar Turner said that her meeting with the representatives was “very positive” and that she was “delighted” to hear that FPL is interested in continuing with the process.

She also said that, despite the rumors, “staff has been accommodating” the requests for information from FPL.

Councilman Brian Heady, who had met with FPL officials as a part of the former council, said nothing new came from this latest meeting.

He said that the company was really just looking for assurances that the Vero Beach City Council is on board with the possibility of a sale.

Though FPL has given no guarantees as to what a potential offer might look like, the company is aware that the council wants the same rates as current FPL customers are given and that there would be no buy-back surcharges.

Forrest told Kramer that the company’s goal is to make sure that all the involved parties are no worse off should a sale occur.

Those involved parties include Florida Municipal Power Agency, the Orlando Utilities Commission, the City of Vero Beach, the customers of Vero Electric both inside and outside the city, FPL’s shareholders, and the company’s customers statewide.

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