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Electric sale continues to edge forward despite challenges


While Vero Beach’s 34,000 electric customers wait for the fate of the Vero electric sale to be determined in Tallahassee next month, the city is moving forward with legal housekeeping that needs to be accomplished before any closing and transition to Florida Power & Light service.

On its agenda for this past Tuesday, the Vero Beach City Council was scheduled to undertake a public hearing on a proposed resolution to declare the city’s eight electric substations and the land they sit on surplus property, “no longer needed by the City for municipal or public purposes,” so they can be sold in conjunction with the transfer of all the other electric utility assets to FPL.

City Manager Jim O’Connor confirmed on Monday that this surplus declaration was tied to the sale of the electric utility to FPL and that the resolution would not allow the city to dispose of substations outside the larger sale transaction. Should the sale not be able to close, due to the failure to gain Florida Public Service Commission approval or for some other reason, the surplus declaration would be cancelled.

The PSC approved the sale by a 3-2 vote this summer but several parties have since filed objections, which the PSC will consider in October.

A pre-hearing conference will be held in Tallahassee on Oct. 3, with up to two days set aside a week later for hearings on the three challenges filed by attorney Lynne Larkin, former Vero councilman Brian Heady and local resident Michael Moran, who object to the sale of Vero electric for various reasons. A fourth challenge by the Florida Industrial Power Users group, filed on behalf of large commercial FPL customers, has been dropped.

In preparation for these meetings, the various parties have sent each other interrogatories to gather evidence. Time for public comment has been set aside at 5 p.m. on Oct. 9, the first day of the hearings, but a notice published by state officials says that any member of the public who speaks shall be subject to cross-examination.