by: Todd Washam
Regulated utilities expanding into the contracting space has been a perennial problem for the contracting industry. Utilities are, essentially, regulated monopolies who have unlimited access to your customers. The latest battleground in this fight between small businesses and behemoth utilities is in Florida.
Florida Power and Light (FPL) has been expanding its monopoly into unregulated industries using ratepayer funds and assets. FPL is operating in the contracting market through a subsidiary called FPL Energy Services. This is concerning because they are using their name and branding for work outside of their regulated scope of services which they are licensed to provide.
Check out the NBC2 Fort Myers Investigation: “NBC2 investigates a claim that a utility company is deceiving you.”
ACCA National has been supporting the fight in Florida since October when we were alerted to FPL’s activities. ACCA has agreed to leverage our letter-generating grassroots action center, a $15,000 program that ACCA invests in annually. Once activated, the ACCA Action Center enables contractors to click a link and automatically send pre-written e-mails to public officials in across the country.
ACCA National allows partner associations to use the Action Center because state and local associations cannot afford the annual $15,000 investment and the dedicated staff resources to leverage these types of programs.
Once the MEP coalition agrees upon a legislative solution to the FPL fight, ACCA will open the Action Center and deliver the messaging to every elected official in Florida. Until then, ACCA is using ACCA National funds for targeted social media campaigns and messaging to support contractors and the MEP Coalition.
ACCA has also taken contractors’ message to Congress. During the weeks of May 6 and May 14, ACCA staff visited nearly 100 members of Congress to educate them about utility expansion issues. There may be a path to fight utilities at the federal level through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and this is currently being explored by some congressional staff. Most offices we met with understand the issue, but ACCA and our allies need to find a champion in Congress to help deliver this message to their peers.
ACCA is proud to stand with contractors in Florida, and across the nation, in the fight against utility expansions.