INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — County Attorney Alan Polackwich will present the Board of County Commissioners options Tuesday on how the county might get involved in complaints with state regulators that the Vero Beach Electric Utility is an “unregulated price monopoly.”
On Feb. 1, commissioners directed Polackwich to research a complaint filed against Vero Electric by utility activists Dr. Stephen Faherty and CPA Glenn Heran with the Florida Public Service Commission.
Heran and Faherty allege that the Vero Beach utility is engaged in “taxation without representation” because it takes money from electric revenues — including receipts from its 61 percent of customers outside the city — and uses it to fund general activities of the city, from recreation to administrative costs of running City Hall.
The City of Vero Beach responded to several requests for information sent by the staff of the PSC, including details about revenue, territory maps, customer counts and geographic distribution of ratepayers.
Polackwich has worked with a utility attorney in Tallahassee for specialized counsel on the issue and to present the Board of County Commissioners with seven possible options.
Options include: intervening with the complaint, formally stating the Board’s position, surveying city customers, establishing a local political solution, seekng a state-level political solution, terminating the county’s 30-year franchise with Vero Beach, and filing a lawsuit to enforce the 2008 Mayfield Legislation that would require Vero Beach to be governed by a Utility Authority.
Backup documents for Tuesday’s meeting state that Polackwich will recommend three courses of action to the Board, the first being to adopt a resolution supporting Faherty and Heran in the PSC case.
The second and third actions would be to give Vero Beach time, “perhaps to midsummer” to pursue a sale to Florida Power and Light and to monitor the Faherty-Heran PSC complaint and only intervene if a sale to FP&L seems like it will not occur.
If the City Council does not successfully negotiate a sale, Polackwich wrote that the County should “aggressively pursue all remaining alternatives, if it appears that a sale to FP&L will not occur and the City refuses to change current practicies, which place a rate and subsidy burden on non-resident customers.”
The Board of County Commissioners meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Commission Chambers at the Indian River County Adminstration Complex, Building A. Meetings are televised on Channel 27.