FPL talking with Orlando utilities about potential purchase of Vero Beach electric

VERO BEACH — The issue of a long-term contract between the City of Vero Beach and the Orlando Utilities Commission for electric service is now a matter of discussion between the commission and Florida Power and Light.

FPL officials sat down with OUC leaders Tuesday to discuss the possibility of Vero Beach’s contract being signed over to FPL in the event the company decides to buy the city’s electric utility. Acting Vero Beach Electric Utilities Director John Lee and City Manager Jim Gabbard sat in on the meeting between the two utility providers, helping to facilitate the discussion.

“We needed to be there,” Lee told the Vero Beach City Council Tuesday evening because the OUC has an agreement with the City of Vero Beach. OUC needed permission from the city to discuss with FPL the terms of its arrangement with the city.

Lee told the council that all the key players between the three entities are getting along and working cooperatively.

The next step, he said, will be for the city to meet with the Florida Municipal Power Agency to discuss the city’s contracts pertaining to the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant and the coal plants known as Stanton I and II.

FPL officials continue to say that they have not yet decided if they want to purchase the city’s electric utility. They have offered no timetable for which they would make that decision.

Along with the contracts between Vero Beach and OUC and between the city and FMPA, FPL officials will have to determine if such an acquisition would be beneficial to their bottom line and investors.

FPL’s electric rates continue to be the lowest in the state, an estimated 32 percent lower than that of Vero Beach’s electric rate.

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