Florida Attorney General Opposes Inclusion Of Electric Choice Amendment On Ballot, Says Language 'Misleading'
March 4, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
The following story is brought free of charge to readers byEC Infosystems, the exclusive EDI provider of EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has written Florida's Supreme Court in opposition to the inclusion of a proposed electric choice initiative on the state's ballot.
The ballot title for the initiative, which would amend the state's constitution, is: "Right to Competitive Energy Market for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities; Allowing Energy Choice." The ballot summary for the proposed amendment states: "Grants customers of investor-owned utilities the right to choose their electricity provider and to generate and sell electricity. Requires the Legislature to adopt laws providing for competitive wholesale and retail markets for electricity generation and supply, and consumer protections, by June 1, 2025, and repeals inconsistent statutes, regulations, and orders. Limits investor-owned utilities to construction, operation, and repair of electrical transmission and distribution systems. Municipal and cooperative utilities may opt into competitive markets."
The Attorney General said in a letter to the court that the AG, "requests the opportunity to present argument in opposition to placement of this proposed amendment on the ballot."
"The proposed amendment's title and summary are not clear and unambiguous and do not comply with the requirements of section 101.161(1), Florida Statutes. Indeed, the title and summary should not be lawfully submitted to Florida voters because the title and summary fail to inform voters of the chief purpose of the proposed amendment and are affirmatively misleading," the AG said
"While phrased both in its title and in its summary as a purportedly pro-consumer choice measure, the proposed amendment does the opposite. The undisclosed chief purpose of the proposed amendment is to eliminate the main providers of electricity service to Floridians, the investor-owned utilities. It 'hides the ball' as to its 'true meaning, and ramifications,' which this Court's precedent forbids," the AG said
"The ballot summary fails to apprise voters that it requires the enactment of laws forcing all investor-owned utilities to divest their ownership of all facilities that generate electricity. The title indicates that it
grants the 'Right to Competitive Energy Market for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities.... ' Similarly, the initial sentence of the ballot summary
states that the proposed amendment '[g]rants customers of investor-owned
utilities the right to choose their electricity provider....' The title and this
statement gives the misleading impression that investor-owned utilities
would still be able to sell electricity to customers, competing with additional,
new providers. But the actual text of the amendment forbids such activity," the AG said
"This misleading impression is not cured by the second-to-last sentence
of the summary. Instead of making clear what the proposed amendment's
chief purpose is, the ballot title and summary uses ambiguous language to
disclose what investor-owned utilities are limited to doing. The summary
reads that investor-owned utilities are limited 'to construction, operation,
and repair of electrical transmission and distribution systems.' This unclear
language fails to disclose that the proposed amendment would require
enactment of laws prohibiting investor-owned utilities from owning,
operating, or even leasing any facilities which generate electricity and would
prevent investor-owned utilities from competing in a new, electric utility
market," the AG said
"Based on the totality of language, voters simply will not be able to
understand the true meaning and ramifications of the proposed amendment,
making the ballot language clearly and conclusively defective. Therefore, I
oppose the proposed amendment being placed on the ballot in its current
form and will present additional argument through brief at the appropriate
time," the AG said