Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thrasher Utilities Move Fails

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thrasher Utilities Move Fails

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Even with his skill as House rules chairman, Rep.

John Thrasher, R-Orange Park, lost a battle this year to pass

legislation which would have helped utility companies but

increased consumer water and sewer bills.

Thrasher, who is next in line to become the House speaker, said

he's going to try again next year.

If his bill had passed, utility companies could have shifted

the costs of complying with state, local, and federal

environmental regulations directly to consumers without

approval from a state cost-control review board, Thrasher

said. The costs could include expenses the companies incurred

for future water and sewer construction, as well as what they

had already developed.

Under present law, the Public Service Commission reviews

environmental compliance costs, but limits the recovery to

existing developments, not future projects.

"It's kind of a fairness thing," Thrasher said. "It might add a

few cents on utility bills."

"Do we want these companies not to be able to recoup their

investments?" he asked.

The cost-recovery proposal, according to lawmakers, could have

increased water and sewer bills by as much as 5 percent to 10

percent over the next three years. But after five years the

costs would go down, they said.

Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Spring Hill, who is responsible for

killing Thrasher's proposal this year, said, "We're going to be

socking it to existing homeowners who are going to be paying for

their future neighbors."

Like most consumer legislation that may affect Floridians'

pocketbooks, the less publicity the bill receives, the easier it

is to pass.

Thrasher's cost recovery bill was never presented to any

committee, including the House Utilities and Communication

Committee, of which Thrasher is a member. …

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