Paul Stehle Updates NFACCA on MEP Coalition Actions
Paul Stehle updated North Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (NFACCA) members and guests on recent activities of the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Coalition for Fair Competition regarding Florida Power and Light (FPL) Energy Services during the October 23, 2018 NFACCA monthly meeting.
Paul, board member of the Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (FRACCA) and the Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association (MACCA), explained that the MEP Coalition was formed in response to FPL Energy Services, a non-regulated subsidiary of FPL, purchasing SE Florida contractor Jupiter-Tequesta AC, Plumbing and Electric earlier this year. The contractor’s website features a photo of a Jupiter-Tequesta co-branded truck and FPL Energy Services Home Solutions branded truck. FPL is also subsidizing Jupiter-Tequesta A/C in other ways such as recruiting employees, transferring incoming calls directly to the for-profit subsidiary, marketing their services in utility customer invoices and sharing a myriad of infrastructure and other ratepayer funded resources. NextEra Energy (FPL’s parent company), FPL, FPL Energy Services and Jupiter-Tequesta AC all share officers and directors.
He went on to describe the advantages in terms of business capital, name recognition, marketing, billing and homeowner data the utility possesses and how difficult it would be to compete with them if those advantages are passed on to their contracting business.
FRACCA originally filed a complaint with the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) on April 18, 2018 to prevent FPL from subsidizing Jupiter-Tequesta A/C through FPL Energy Services. Due to the PSC’s inaction, FRACCA and the MEP Coalition for Fair Competition on September 13, 2018 asked Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate the business practices of FPL. Specifically, the groups claim that FPL is misappropriating regulated public assets to enter private for-profit markets. The letter also asked for clarification of FPL’s positions, provided supplemental information to the PSC for consideration and asked the Attorney General’s Antitrust Division to intervene and to initiate an investigation.
“If FPL is unchecked in their attempts to subsidize Jupiter-Tequesta AC, other utilities across the state will likely follow suit,” Paul concluded. “Competition from utilities probably can’t be stopped but if it’s fair competition, without cross-subsidizing of resources, there will be less impact on the independent contractors.”
Visit www.mepcoalition.org for more information.