Vero Beach residents may soon benefit from competition for electricity.
City officials are playing the market this summer, gambling that bidding out bulk power-supply contracts results in lower electric bills.
Odds are in the city’s favor. Vero can get a better price this year and for the next eight years, according to utilities counsel Robert Scheffel “Schef” Wright.
It’s no guarantee and likely may not be as good as the sale to FPL but it is very likely to be better than overpaying for the current FMPA rates that Vero Beach and Fort Pierce are stuck with.
The city had hoped to renegotiate its power-supply contracts with OUC because breaking the contract could result in up to a $50 million penalty. But negotiations that began last fall have been unsuccessful, Wright said. If OUC is the top bidder, there is a chance to negotiate so the city avoids paying the full penalty.
Vero’s electric customers have complained for years about the city’s rates. Twice, Vero voters supported selling the system to Florida Power & Light Co.
City Manager Jim O’Connor said an FPL sale remains on the table, but the city still must comply with its contractual obligations to the Florida Municipal Power Agency. The FMPA contracts are a separate component of Vero’s bulk power suppliers.
The best answer may will still be abandoning the cartel which is the FMPA.
Sign the Petition to Sell FPUA
But former Indian River Taxpayers Association President Glenn Heran says the city is heading down the wrong path by bidding out the bulk power supply.
The city should focus on getting out of the FMPA contract and selling the system to FPL, he said.
The city heard promises of lower electric bills in 2008, when it signed the OUC contract, he said. Within a few years, the city had lower bills, but they still were higher than FPL’s, he said.
“We’ve been there. We’ve heard that,” Heran said. “The only way to get FPL rates is to be FPL.”