When busybodies try to plan what other people should buy messes arise and Indian River County is a cluster of messes.

First Indian River Shores is suing Vero Beach to choose their own electric grid when their contract with Vero Beach expires. Vero Beach, of course, wants the lawsuit dismissed and to monopolize electric customers in the Shores.

The Shores’ amended complaint claimed Vero is not authorized to force the town’s residents to be on Vero’s electric grid once the town’s franchise agreement ends with the city in November 2016. The town’s lawsuit focuses on “home rule” — the right of the town to determine who should provide its residents with electric service.

…Indian River Shores and Vero have been at odds for more than a year over high electric rates. The city’s rates were 25.2 percent higher than Florida Power & Light’s in December 2014, the lawsuit said. More than 60 percent of the city’s customers live outside city limits. The lawsuit claims that over the past 10 years, customers living outside the city limits have paid about $16 million more for electric service than their neighbors who get FPL electric.

Vero Beach is also seeking cheaper electric rates and seeking to sell off it’s utility to the best bidder to provide electric services. That is causing a contract dispute with the Orlando Utilities Commission which has threatened to also  sue Vero Beach.

Replacing OUC with another supplier would violate the terms of the 20-year contract forged in 2008 and discount the utility’s efforts to reduce energy prices and aid Vero Beach in selling the electric system, OUC General Counsel Christopher Browder said in a July 1 letter to the city.

City Manager Jim O’Connor said Vero Beach is allowed to use a different, lower-priced vendor if it pays a $50 million penalty to dissolve the contract with OUC.

…“The city should not carelessly proceed … based on the faulty assumption that the city’s liability exposure to OUC is limited to $50 million,” Browder wrote. “OUC reserves its right to seek any and all alternative legal remedies against the city if this matter is not resolved amicably and expeditiously.”

Vero Beach is fighting back against the OUC.

In a strongly worded letter, city attorneys said the OUC’s threat was groundless and an attempt to scare off lower-priced suppliers. The OUC’s anti-competitive tactic could give the city ammunition for its own legal action, the letter states.

“The city disagrees with nearly all of your assertions and arguments … and believes that OUC’s letter itself gives rise to potentially serious consequences for OUC,” city attorneys wrote.

…OUC’s lawsuit threat is “a blatant attempt to scare off bidders” and, in fact, already has discouraged one supplier who was likely to submit a proposal, the letter states. If OUC doesn’t withdraw its threat to sue bidders, the city will pursue its own legal recourse, the letter says.

What a mess. And all this to get just a tiny bit of competition to make suppliers compete for consumer demand. Competition in electricity is possible and instead of this utility competing for monopoly rights in that city companies should be competing for the business of every household, business, block and neighborhood.

no fpua monopoly

Source: Vero Beach won’t back off in face of utility threats, may file lawsuit of its own