Despite PSC ruling, Shores plans to push ahead

So far, the Shores has spent two years and more than $800,000 on its case against Vero Beach, and has yet to get a court or the PSC to hear its central argument, namely that the Town is a sovereign power. Addressing the PSC, Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot claimed Vero Electric customers within the Town would, collectively, save $2 million a year as customers of Florida Power & Light. “Even if we spend $2 million dollars, it would be break-even,” Barefoot said.

MARK SCHUMANN

Indian River Shores special counsel Bruce May and Mayor Brian Barefoot appear before the Florida Public Service Commission.
Indian River Shores special counsel Bruce May and Mayor Brian Barefoot appear before the Florida Public Service Commission.

The Florida Public Service Commission this week issued a ruling on a petition brought by the Town of Indian River Shores. A Press Journal report on the Commission’s action gives the impression the Town prevailed.  “That’s what we wanted to hear,” Town attorney Bruce May was quoted as saying.

Reporter Colleen Wixon wrote, “The town this week got the direction it wanted to begin evicting Vero Beach electric after the utility’s 30-year franchise agreement with the town ends in November, town officials said.”

In truth, the Commission’s declaratory statement was not at all what the Town had sought.  The PSC approved its staff’s recommendation, which reads:

The Petition asks that the Commission make the following declaration: The Commission lacks the jurisdiction under Chapter 366, F.S., or any other applicable law, to interpret Article VIII, Section (2)(c) of the Florida Constitution, and Section 166.021, F.S., for purposes of adjudicating and resolving whether the Town has a constitutional right, codified in the statutes, to be protected from unconsented exercises of extra-territorial powers by Vero Beach within the Town’s corporate limits.

For the reasons set forth above, staff recommends the Commission should issue a declaratory statement on the Town of Indian River Shores’ Petition for Declaratory Statement. However, the Commission should not issue the declaratory statement requested by the Petition. Instead, the Commission should declare that the Commission has the jurisdiction under Section 366.04, F.S., to determine whether Vero Beach has the authority to continue to provide electric service within the corporate limits of the Town of Indian River Shores upon expiration of the franchise agreement between the Town of Indian River Shores and the City of Vero Beach. The Commission should state that the declaratory statement will be controlling only as to the facts relied upon in this docket and not as to other, different or additional facts.

Quite simply, May did not get the declaratory statement he was looking for. May, who has so far guided the Town of Indian River Shores down what PSC Chairman Julie Imanuel Brown described as “a protracted, arduous process,” signaled this week that he next plans to ask the PSC to reconsider its long-standing orders giving Vero Beach the authority to serve its current territory within the Shores.

In guarded terms, Brown cautioned May and Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot about continuing their fight. “We don’t have purview over your taxpayers’ dollars, but I do want to emphasize that this has been protracted.” A short time later, Brown said, “I hope the message got through.”

So far, the Shores has spent two years and more than $800,000 on its case against Vero Beach, and has yet to get a court or the PSC to hear its central argument, namely that the Town is a sovereign power. Addressing the PSC, Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot claimed Vero Electric customers within the Town would, collectively, save $2 million a year as customers of Florida Power & Light. “Even if we spend $2 million dollars, it would be break-even,” Barefoot said.

 

 

3 comments

  1. Sometimes losing is hard to swallow, but if the taxpayers of Indian River Shores want to keep pouring money “down the drain” it’s their business. I suspect they will continue losing and it will cost them large amounts of taxpayer money.

  2. The Shores’ lawsuit is also impacting the customers of Vero Electric, for they are paying the cost of defending against the wealthy island enclave’s selfish and largely frivolous lawsuit. It appears the next move for the Shores will be to seek reconsideration and reversal of the PSC’s territorial. If that doesn’t go their way, Shores leaders will likely take their case tot he Florida Supreme Court.

  3. Lawyers have to make money too. Like always the lawyers will get the money and the town and city will get headlines.

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