Public meeting – FPL franchise in city

According to an announcement posted on the St. Augustine Government website, Historic City News is reminded that city staff is holding a public meeting today on whether the city should renew its 30-year franchise with Florida Power & Light.

The meeting is scheduled for today from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. and is being held in Commission Chambers (the Alcazar Room) located in City Hall, 75 King St.

There will be a short presentation on the franchise by city staff along with an FPL spokesman and one of its attorneys.

The city has hired a Jacksonville attorney specializing in utility negotiations who will attend.

John Regan, city chief operations officer, will take questions from the public.

“We’ll find out where there’re issues and what the public’s interests are,” he said. “This will help us understand what we need to be working on.”

The city has three main options: renew its franchise with FPL, use FPL’s services without the franchise, or buy out FPL’s equipment in St. Augustine and start its own electric company.

City staff is gathering information on all the options, although they have warned city commissioners that it could cost $50 million to buy out FPL.

An FPL spokesman has said renewing the 30-year franchise would benefit both FPL and the city by guaranteeing stability from the lengthy franchise. It allows FPL to show it is financially steady because it has customers locked in for the next three decades, the spokesman said, while the city gains roughly $1.3 million annually in franchise fees.

If the city did not have a franchise, it would likely have to replace the lost franchise fees through another form of taxation, Regan has said. However, customers would see their electric bills decrease without the franchise fee.

Readers may call 825-1015 for further information.

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