Walmart and the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, which represents large electricity users, have submitted a proposal to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) that would allow them to opt out of the state’s 35-year-old conservation program, South Florida’s NMC-2.com reports.
The proposal would separate the energy-efficiency payments and the demand-side management programs that are part of the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, and allow Walmart and others that use large amounts of energy to opt out of paying the energy conservation charge on their bills.
Florida PSC held a hearing on the proposal July 22.
Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light (FPL), Tampa Electric and Gulf Power oppose the proposal and testified to commissioners that it would shift costs to small businesses and residential customers. However, they were not able to provide a good estimate on the impact to remaining customers if large users are able to opt out of the conservation program.
A number of other states have similar opt-out programs, Walmart countered, and if Florida’s opt-out program is properly managed, costs wouldn’t fall to other users.
Walmart further argued that if large energy customers are allowed to run their own conservation programs, they would likely exceed the state minimums, adding that by being forced to pay into the rebate program, they aren’t able to invest in other energy-saving innovations.
FPL told the PSC that the administrative costs to change the conservation programs could cost millions of dollars. The energy providers said that the state needs to maintain clear guidelines that are fair to all customers.
The commission is waiting for a staff recommendation on the proposal and is expected to rule on it sometime this fall.
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