Council votes 4-1 to approve power sale

NEWS ANALYSIS

MARK SCHUMANN

Rushing to sign a deal before the Nov. 7 Council election, the Vero Beach City Council yesterday voted 4-1 to approve an asset purchase agreement between the City and Florida Power and Light. The deal will turn over ownership of Vero Electric to the state’s largest investor owned utility.

Councilman Richard Winger opposed signing the contract as it is written, siting concerns about a provision that will require the City to hand over the Indian River Shores portion of the electric system, if a full sale is ultimately blocked regulators, or by any one of 19 cities that most approve the deal.

Winger is not alone is raising concerns about the so-called partial sale. The Finance Commission, which recently agreed in principle to the benefits of a sale of the full system, cautioned the Council against agreeing to a partial sale under the terms offered by FPL.

Council members Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, all of whom were elected with significant financial support from FPL and from Indian River Shores residents, approved the 500-page contract, pages of which were arriving at City Hall over the weekend.

Councilman Tony Young, apparently with a eye toward  a re-election bid next November, also voted to approve a contract which had not been reviewed by the Utilities and Finance Commission, and which, given the lateness of the hour, could hardly have been fully reviewed by himself or by any member of the Council.

Along with Howle, Moss and Sykes, Young compliantly approved a 500 page agreement that even the City Attoeney had not had time to review. It was not exactly Young’s most courageous moment.

Though the FPL-controlled council members, along with Young’s support, managed to get the deal approved before the Nov. 7 election, the power sale remains an issue.

An FPL-funded political action committee, Clean Sweep for a Brighter Tomorrow, is running ads urging voters to support Howle and Val Zudans based on their enthusiasm of the power sale. FPL recently contributed no less than $50,000 to Clean Sweep. The Press Journal made its endorsements based on the power sale, as did the island weekly.

These attempt to continue to make the coming election about the power sale render Press Journal reporter Colleen Wixon’s observations more than a little ironic. In a story published yesterday Wixon wrote, “The 4-1 vote brings to a close a debate that has dominated local politics – and filtered into other governments as well – for more than 40 years.”

To listen to Wixon’s editorial board, and to read Clean Sweep’s political advertising, the debate is far from over.  In truth, what the FPL-funded PAC is seeking, with assistance from the Press Journal and the island weekly, is a Council majority that will be inclined to approve any future changes FPL may propose to the asset purchase agreement.

If a sale of the full system receives all the necessary approval and is concluded on the terms approved yesterday, the deal will have some short terms benefits to the City. Most importantly, a full sale will give the City enough in proceeds to pay off unfunded pension obligations. The City will also begin to collect a 6% franchise fee on power bills.

What seem unlikely are the promised savings in power bills local residents will be expecting. Over the past several years, Vero Electric has reduced it s rates, while FPL’s rates have been rising, and by all estimates, will continue to rise.

Essentially, the power sale came together for two reasons. FPL President and C.E.O., Eric Silagy, was determined to have his way, and he had at his disposal the financial resources to buy the political support needed to push the deal through. Finally, Vero Beach’s handing over of its electric system proves that nothing dies harder than a bad idea.

 

8 comments

  1. Howle and Zudans’ latest mailer accuses a certain “neighborhood association” of trying to buy the election. I could hardly stop laughing since the two of them are supported by Clean Sweep for a Brighter Tomorrow PAC……FPL….Indian River Shores folks….. Yes, Mr. Young will have to work with those 3 (probably). Majority rules – and this majority has outside connections. So sad. Hoping for the best all the same and looking into solar power.

  2. Mark
    I learned long ago not to speak for Tony. From where you sit it is difficult to know what his thoughts are. Perhaps you should call him and speak to him directly. I believe I can say he would have the courtesy to call you back. But then again I am not speaking for him.

  3. Perhaps Councilman Young could simply explain publicly why it seemed advisable to him to approve a $185 million, 500 page agreement that was not even close to having been fully vetted. Pages of the agreement were arriving at City Hall as last as Sunday, leaving the City Attorney without time to even read the full document. So let’s be clear about this: Along with Harry Howle, Laura Moss and Lange Sykes, Councilman Young voted to approve an exceedingly complicated agreement that even the Council’s attorney had not been given time to thoroughly review. Of equal importance, perhaps Councilman Young can explain why he was willing to agree to a contract that commits the City to a partial sale, if a full sale cannot be concluded. I can only assume he was willing to comply with the FPL-controlled majority because he does not want to risk being branded as someone opposed to the sale.

  4. From this side I am elated that the deal has been voted for, specifically for the residents of Indian River Shores where I reside. As for Councilman Young, as a fellow Veteran, I would vouch for his integrity and concern in what ever he does or undertakes, and he is a “blessing” for the residents of the City.

  5. Larry, I’ll check back with you after you receive your first FPL bill to see if you are still elated.

  6. This sale ensures that Vero Beach Utility customers will now be forced to accept the FPL smart meter…..or pay a penalty.

    Here are the facts:
    *FPL’s microwave transmitting smart meter emits biologically cumulative, radio frequency radiation. RFR has been determined by the World Health Organization to be a Class 2B possible carcinogen. There is now enough peer reviewed data to reclassify this as a Class 2A potential carcinogen.

    *The regulating body is the FCC. They have not updated their lax safety “guidelines” in nearly 20 years.

    *According to a 2014 class action law suit, that was thrown out of court, it was discovered that more than 8,000 FPL customers reported damage due to fires, surges, meter melt downs, and even explosions during installation. There are at least 3 reported deaths in other states attributed to smart meter fires.

    *Smart meter data collection and storage is a 4th Amendment violation.

    *Unjust enrichment: To protect your home and family – OPT OUT! This will cost you $89 for start up and a $13 per month penalty fee. Ask only for a safe, secure ANALOG meter with no transmitters.
    In many states rate payers read their own meters – why not FPL?

    *FPL touts the energy dashboard in recent commercials – a way to see what your daily energy use is. This is only general information and has been a failure – that we all pay for.

    Learn more: EHTrust.org is moderated by Co-Nobel Laureate, Dr. Devra Davis.

    Smart Meters: NOT healthy, NOT green, NOT secure, NOT Constitutional

  7. If I may,a smart meter as is all digital meters not analog. Smart meters don’t broadcast as far as a radio station,nor cell phone.these have a base antannae nearby.

  8. This vote to make possibly a partial sale, and the following rationalizations for it, made me think of a comment offered recently by CNN’s Jake Tapper. “In Washington, I never bet on courage, and I never bet on politicians saying what they really think.”

    With an exception here and there, courage and candor are also in short supply in Vero Beach. Personally, I’ve had many off-the-record conversations over the years with City staff and local politicians, and so I know all too well that often what they say publicly is not reflective of their private thoughts.

    Sometimes politicians so cleverly rationalize their shifting positions that they themselves no longer know what they really believe. For many of them, the only central conviction that holds over time and under all circumstances is a commitment to self-preservation.

Comment - Please use your first and last name. Comments of up to 350 words are welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s