More half-truths from the Press Journal

COMMENTARY

The Press Journal reporter referred to the FMPA’s losses of some $250 million in fuel futures, but she inaccurately wrote that all of those losses came in “the previous year.” In fact, they were experienced over a decade. Unreported by Rangel were FPL’s fuel hedging losses of more than $4 BILLION during the same time period.

MARK SCHUMANN

In a story posted yesterday evening, Press Journal reporter, Isidora Rangel, served up just the kind of half-truths that have kept alive Florida Power & Light’s public relations campaign against Vero Electric and the Florida Municipal Power Agency.

Rangel wrote of the Florida Legislature needing to “crack down” on the FMPA, but she did not mention that several FMPA member cities have rates lower than FPL.

The Press Journal reporter referred to the FMPA’s losses of some $250 million in fuel futures, but she inaccurately wrote that all of those losses came in “the previous year.” In fact, they were experienced over a decade. Unreported by Rangel were FPL’s fuel hedging losses of more than $4 BILLION during the same time period. (FPL’s losses were recently reported by the Wall Street Journal, as well as by a number of Florida media outlets, but not by the Press Journal. For three months now, the Press Journal has also failed to report on FPL’s application with the Florida Public Service Commission for a $1.337 billion rate increase.)

Rangel claimed that for six years Rep. Debbie Mayfield failed to pass legislation aimed at the FMPA because “the agency lobbied heavily against it.” There was no mention in Rangel’s story of FPL’s lobbying efforts on behalf of Mayfield’s bills. Appearing last week before Vero Beach’s Utilities Commission, Mayfield said her bill was written by “utility experts.” Like who? The fine folks at FPL?

Could it be that for six years Mayfield failed to pass utility legislation because a majority of Florida legislators saw it for what it was, an FPL-sponsored attack on the FMPA?

Rangel strayed further from the truth by inaccurately calming the purpose of Mayfield’s bill was to “require the FMPA to disclose its financial information.” The FMPA is audited annual. The results of each year’s audit are available to the public. In truth, the purpose of Mayfield’s legislation was to help FPL expand its customer base by making it easier for the investor-owned utility giant to acquire municipal utilities.

Finally, Rangel perpetuated utility activist Glenn Heran’s misguided notion that FMPA contracts could easily be exited, if only the parties were given a “fair market” exit price. The whole notion of a “fair market price” assumes a willing buyer and a willing seller. In the case of Vero Beach’s position in three FMPA power projects financed with tax-exempt bonds, there is no willing, qualified buyer. The Orlando Utilities Commission had offered to buy Vero Beach’s position in the projects, but then backed away from the deal. No other qualified buyer has stepped forward.

For their part, the reports and editors and the Press Journal seem determined to perpetuate Vero Beach’s utility controversy through misguided commentary and, worse, through continued misreporting. Could this have something to do with the fact that the Press Journal’s publisher is married to an FPL vice president?

 

4 comments

  1. If we could only have the $155,000,000 Glen Heran said we would get from the sale life would be great. Of course he was only off $200,000,000 after we have to pay an addition $46,000,000 to sell.

  2. John, FPL was to pay half of the $46,000,000, to the CPA Heran was only off by $181 million.

  3. I feel much better now that I know his estimates were only off by a mere !81 million.

  4. The fact that the Press Journal will not print any article on FPL’s $1.337 billion increase is a betrayal of the public trust. The fact that their latest story on FMPA’s losses which state the losses were incurred “last year” is an insult to those of us who follow the never ending “sell at any cost saga.” The Press Journal is not worth the paper its printed on.

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