Big Electric pushes back against free-market competition
FloridaFlorida Politics

Big Electric pushes back against free-market competition

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Don’t you wish sometimes you could change your electric company when they’re charging you more or keeping you on hold for an hour? Now imagine you’re Walmart, whose slogan used to be “Always Low Prices.” Walmart’s more than 375 stores in Florida keep the lights on 24/7, so if you were them y ou’d probably welcome any idea that lets you pick an electric company to shrink your bill.

That’s why Walmart is part of a coalition pushing for real free-market competition in Florida’s energy market. The group is called Florida Energy Freedom, also includes the support of companies like Yuengling and Red Lobster, and is pushing for the Constitution Revision Commission to approve Proposal 51 which would let Florida consumers choose where they get their electricity from.

This seems like an obvious idea. Free enterprise made our country great, because it let’s the market decide. Walmart says Proposal 51 would save them about $15 million a year. You’d think every big company in Florida would support it for the chance to get lower electric bills, but for some crazy reason ($$$) the Florida Chamber – supposedly Florida’s business trade group – doesn’t like it. The Chamber is ignoring the voices of many of Florida’s largest employers like Walmart, just like the Legislature ignored the voice of Florida citizens who pay high electric bills.

Well, maybe it isn’t so baffling – the big government-backed utilities and their lobbyists hate the proposal because it would cost them money, and if the utilities don’t like it, the Chamber and lawmakers don’t like it.

But lots of other people do, and with good reason. The Florida Energy Freedom coalition ranges from the energy sector to conservationists to corporations like Walmart, and they all agree energy choice would strengthen Florida’s economy, diversify the state’s energy sources, and is highly popular with the public.

Florida is the only state of the 7 biggest in the US – THE ONLY ONE – that doesn’t give its citizens a choice in how they get electricity. That would make a huge difference by cutting electric prices by ¼ and forcing the government-backed utilities to start doing better with customer service.

Texas saves $5 billion a year thanks to electric freedom, and an economic study says Florida would save even more – something like $7.5 billion within a dozen years.

I’m no fan of government over-regulation, and this is regulation at it’s worst. Its always bothered me the Legislature does whatever the utilities want, including protecting them from competition. The Constitution revision Commission (CRC) should let the people of Florida vote on if we want to be able to choose our electric company.

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Javier Manjarres

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