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Politics

Lisa Edgar Won't Seek Fourth Term as Utility Regulator

May 3, 2016 - 7:15pm
Lisa Edgar
Lisa Edgar

Lisa Edgar, the longest-serving member of the Florida Public Service Commission, will not seek a fourth term on the state's utility regulatory board.
 
Edgar, who did not submit an application for reappointment to the $131,000-a-year position before a Tuesday deadline, said in a prepared statement she intends to use her "regulatory and governmental experience as I pursue new endeavors and other career opportunities.”
 
Among 11 candidates who filed applications before the deadline was Palm Harbor resident Jeffrey Bragg, whom Gov. Rick Scott recently sought to appoint as state insurance commissioner.
 
A full list of applicants is expected to be posted online Wednesday by the Public Service Commission Nominating Council.

The nominating council likely will whittle the list of applicants, with Scott making an appointment later this year. Appointments to the five-member PSC are for four years and are subject to Senate confirmation.

Edgar was first appointed to the regulatory panel by former Gov. Jeb Bush and began the job in January 2005. She was later reappointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist and Scott. She will remain on the commission through the end of this year.

"When reflecting on your career, nothing is more rewarding than feeling a sense of achievement," Edgar said in the statement Tuesday. "For the past 12 years, I've been honored and humbled to work on complex regulatory issues, finding ways to accomplish what's best for the public good."

Edgar chaired the commission from 2006 through 2007 and also recently served as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

A release from the Public Service Commission said Edgar led efforts to adopt measures that strengthened the state's electric grid to withstand storms and helped implement the first net-metering policies in the country, which helped "diversify Florida's energy mix and expand renewable energy sources."
 
But Edgar at times faced criticism, including in 2013 from some lawmakers who contended she favored electric utilities over consumers.
 
Before Edgar got reconfirmed in a 26-13 vote in the Senate, Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, said he'd like to see "us put someone a little more consumer friendly" on the commission.
 
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, added that Edgar "does not do an adequate job of representing the ratepayers" and was "fairly consistently on the side of the regulated industries" in electric cases.
 
Latvala pointed to reports of text messages from power company executives to Edgar and staffers at the commission that went outside of public channels.
 
The 2013 confirmation vote came as lawmakers debated changes to a law that has allowed utilities to collect money from customers as they plan for nuclear power plants that may never be built.
 
When reappointed by Scott in September 2012, the governor wrote that Edgar "has demonstrated the ability to review complex issues and show fairness in considering those issues."
 
Before joining the PSC, Edgar, who earned a law degree from Florida State University, was a deputy secretary at the Department of Environmental Protection and before that served as a policy analyst in the governor's Office of Policy and Budget under former Gov. Lawton Chiles.

The selection of Edgar's replacement will be closely watched by lawmakers, consumer advocates and officials in the utility industry.

Bragg could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday about his application for the PSC seat. The application came after Bragg was part of a standoff between Scott and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater about naming a successor for outgoing Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.

Scott's attempt to appoint Bragg as insurance commissioner failed to get support from Atwater. Scott and Atwater ultimately agreed Friday to give the $165,000-a-year job to David Altmaier, a deputy commissioner with the Office of Insurance Regulation.
 
Bragg's resume for the regulatory job notes he is former executive director of the U.S. Department of Treasury's Terrorism Risk Insurance Program and also worked for Zurich Risk Management and as an executive vice president for IMSG in St. Petersburg.

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