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Group Says Voters Will Reject 'Energy Choice' Amendment, Releases Poll Ahead Of Supreme Court Review

Ryan Dailey

Florida’s Supreme Court on Wednesday will weigh approval of ballot language for a proposed amendment to deregulate investor-owned utilities. Should the proposed amendment ultimately pass, customers would be able to choose their own provider, but one group says it would jack up rates.

The group Florida Energy Choice is behind the proposed amendment, and says it would save consumers $5 billion annually. But an opposing group, Floridians for Affordable Reliable Energy, or FARE, says similar measures were a disaster for states like Texas.

FARE commissioned a poll of more than 1,300 Florida voters using just the ballot language, and got a response of 40 percent approval. But FARE board member Scott Areseneaux says his group gave a second poll, after telling voters what they say the amendment would do. For starters, Arseneaux says 75 percent of Floridians would have to change providers.

"We went ahead and gave voters a little more information – essentially, that they would be forced to change their energy provider – so whoever gives you electricity today, they will not be able to give you electricity tomorrow," Arseneaux told reporters during  press conference Tuesday. "75 percent of Floridians will have to change their energy provider. Voters don’t like that."

Based on how the move to deregulation has played out in Texas, Arseneaux warns rates would go up significantly.

"Second – that in deregulated states across America, they pay 37 percent more than we do here in Florida, we have very low rates here in Florida," Arseneauz said. "Just those two basic bits of information, support for this amendment collapses. It becomes 2 to 1 against."

Arseneaux says that second poll yielded 21 percent approval. Arguments in front of the Supreme Court begin at 9 a.m.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.