October 18th, 2012 09:03 EST
Florida's Public Service Commission: Regulating Piracy?
(Port Richey, FL) According to a representative with Florida`s Public Service Commission, the agency has, in fact, regulated and approved the excessive prices for water treatment and delivery that residents of the state consider piracy. The commission claims to be, "committed to making sure that Florida consumers receive some of their most essential services...in a safe, reasonable, and reliable manner." However, many citizens are questioning the validity of this assertion - especially when the agency uses the term "reasonable" to describe its utility rate regulations.
The Public Service Commission of Florida has allowed Aqua Utilities, a privately owned company based in Pflugerville, Texas, to handle water and sewer services in several counties throughout the state. Aqua Utilities charges consumers a rate that is approximately 4 times higher than the rates charged by Florida`s public water services, which, over the course of a month, add up to some fairly hefty fees.
The average bill for a Florida homeowner receiving water services from the county is approximately $30.00 per month for 4,200 gallons of water. The average water bill for a homeowner receiving services from Aqua Utilities is approximately $124.00 for the same 4,200 gallons. The difference between these two figures is $94.00 on a monthly basis, and $1,128.00 over the course of a year. Yet the state`s Public Service Commission refuses to acknowledge this discrepancy or to reevaluate their service rate regulations, for reasons they would not provide.
Is this, perhaps, another example of a government agency being paid off by a big business to overlook the plights of its people? Many Florida citizens believe this to be true, particularly after being advised by several city and county agencies that there is no democratic or legal recourse available to them to change the circumstances.
"Aqua Utilities owns the [water] rights," a Pasco County Public Utilities representative advised. "There is nothing we [the county] can do, unless they go bankrupt."
The combination of apathy and pessimism communicated by local officials has led to great distrust and disdain for those elected to city and county offices. Many community initiatives have been launched to petition government agencies of all levels to remove Aqua Utilities from Florida. However, the regulating commission has lent nothing more than a deaf ear to these grass roots campaigns.
"The people right across the street from us pay about $36.00 a month for their water," a Port Richey resident advised, "and here we are getting fleeced by a company that doesn`t even deserve our money. Our money should be going back to our own county, back to our own state, but our own agencies won`t even protect us. It`s bull****."
So, is Florida`s Public Service Commission regulating and supporting piracy? According to popular opinion, the answer is yes. According to a representative of the commission, however, their regulations are within the law, and they see no reason to explore any revisions of their policies at this time.