Contractors form alliance to oppose what they say is Florida Power and Light’s “predatory” expansion

A state-wide small business alliance called the MEP Coalition for Fair Competition has been launched launched to oppose what it says are Florida Power & Light’s (FPL)predatory practices.

Specifically, the coalition asserts in a news release that the company is using its public resources for private gain in the home services market including air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical services.

Video: MEP Coalition’s YouTube message

MEP is an acronym for mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors. Coalition organizers include the South Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SFACA), the Southwest Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SWACCA), the Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association (MACCA) and the Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (FRACCA).

The group says that FPL is leveraging assets from their regulated ratepayer funded utility monopoly to expand into new for-profit businesses.

The news release asserts that FPL entered the air conditioning, electrical & plumbing services and contracting business using a subsidiary called FPL Energy ServicesJupiter- Tequesta Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Heating is now promoting itself as an FPL Energy Services Company. In addition, their website features a photo of a Jupiter-Tequesta co-branded truck and FPL Energy Services Home Solutions branded truck. The company claims to now serve 30,000 customers from Lucie to Broward County.

The coalition says it has asked Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate the FPL’s business practices in, it asserts, misappropriating regulated public assets to enter private for-profit markets.

“FPL is using utility ratepayer funds and assets to buy their way into HVAC, electrical, plumbing and other industries and their goal is to put small local companies out of business and control these markets,” said Jaime DiDomenico, president of Cool Today, an HVAC, plumbing and electrical company based in Sarasota, and a member of the MEP coalition. “We hope the Attorney General will intervene to protect local businesses, jobs and consumers.”

FRACCA originally filed a complaint with the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) on April 18 to prevent FPL from subsidizing Jupiter-Tequesta A/C through FPL Energy Services.

The MEP Coalition’s letter to the the Florida PSC

NextEra Energy, FPL, FPL Energy Services and Jupiter-Tequesta A/C all share officers and directors. In addition, FPL has admitted to collecting pricing data and customer information from independent contractors participating in rebate programs, the coalition asserts.

Saying the reason was because of the PSC’s inaction, FRACCA and the MEP Coalition for Fair Competition sent another letter on Sept. 13 seeking clarification of FPL’s positions and providing supplemental information to the PSC for consideration, the news release says.

Tray Batcher, a Partner with Cotney Construction Law which represents FRACCA, said in a statement: “FPL is illegally subsidizing a for-profit affiliate using regulated ratepayer funds.

“It is outrageous, unfair and extraordinarily damaging to local small businesses and FPL ratepayers.”

The coalition contends that FPL will continue its expansion into home services “improperly using extensive customer data, infrastructure and market power to decimate local businesses and dominate their markets.”

The contractors group says  FPL is unfairly using ratepayer funded resources from their regulated utility to force their way into new revenue streams and higher profits. “They argue that the company’s goal is to leverage the its market power, aggressively recruit their employees, use predatory pricing to steal their customers and put them out of business,” the news release says.

As evidence of this unfair competition, the coalition points to a precedent that recently occurred when Baltimore Gas & Electric’s (BGE) entered the HVAC market as BGE Home. In that case, about 30 percent of locally owned and operated heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical service companies were forced out of business due to BGE’s unfair business practices.

SFACA president Doug Lindstrom said in a statement: “The Public Service Commission and legislature need to intervene to protect local family owned businesses from unfair predatory practices. These small businesses and the jobs they provide are the backbone of our communities.”

“They will not stop with HVAC,” said Keith Martin, co-owner of Badger Bob’s Services, a Sarasota-based HVAC company. “If they are allowed to get away with it, they will continue their expansion into electrical, plumbing and additional industries.”

FPL has not yet responded to a request for comment from Florida Construction News.

Contractors form alliance to oppose what they say is Florida Power and Light’s “predatory” expansion

 

Small Business Owners Ask Attorney General to Investigate FPL’s Business Practices Argue Company is Using Public Assets to Enter Private For-Profit Markets

 

Small Business Owners Ask Attorney General to Investigate FPL’s Business Practices Argue Company is Using Public Assets to Enter Private For-Profit Markets

Published: Sept 13, 2018 10:00 a.m. ET

Private contractors organize coalition to oppose FPL’s new services

Private contractors organize coalition to oppose FPL’s new services

A group of air conditioning contractors is protesting Florida Power & Light’s expansion into the home services business.

The new alliance, MEP Coalition for Fair Competition, includes business owners from Southwest Florida who accuse FPL of “predatory practices” by leveraging assets from its state-regulated power business to move into unregulated services like air conditioning.

The coalition wants the state Public Service Commission, which regulates FPL electric rates, and the Legislature to intervene and protect their interests.

“They will not stop with HVAC,” Keith Martin, co-owner of Badger Bob’s Services in Sarasota, said in announcing the coalition. “If they are allowed to get away with it, they will continue their expansion into electrical, plumbing and additional industries.”

Officials from FPL did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

The utility, Florida’s largest that serves 10 million people across half the state, operates FPL Energy Services, an unregulated subsidiary that offers energy-related products and services like surge protection, water heater and plumbing protection and backup generators.

The coalition contends that as the nation’s third-largest electric company, FPL can improperly access customer data, infrastructure and market power to dominate smaller businesses in air conditioning and other services.

“We are not afraid to compete, but we should not have to compete against a ratepayer-funded monopoly,” said Jaime DiDomenico, president of Cool Today in Sarasota. “We want a level and fair playing field.”

Organizers of the coalition — MEP is an acronym for mechanical, electrical and plumbing — include the Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association, whose members are from Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. Others are the South Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association, the Southwest Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association and the Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association.

Coalition Launches to Oppose FPL’s Predatory Expansion

Contact: Skip Farinhas

(727) 275-0572

 

Coalition Launches to Oppose FPL’s Predatory Expansion

Says Company is Using Ratepayer Funds to Force Small Business Closures

 

  1. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A state-wide small business alliance called the MEP Coalition for Fair Competition launched today to oppose Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) predatory practices. Specifically, the coalition stated that the company is using its public resources for private gain in the home services market including air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical services. MEP is an acronym for mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors. Coalition organizers include the South Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SFACA), the Southwest Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SWACCA), the Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association (MACCA) and the Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (FRACCA).

 

FPL is leveraging assets from their regulated ratepayer funded utility monopoly to expand into new for-profit businesses. They aggressively entered the air conditioning, electrical & plumbing services and contracting business using a subsidiary called FPL Energy Services. Jupiter-Tequesta Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Heating is now promoting themselves as an FPL Energy Services Company. In addition, their website features a photo of a Jupiter-Tequesta co-branded truck and FPL Energy Services Home Solutions branded truck. The company claims to now serve 30,000 customers from Lucie to Broward County.

Left unchallenged, the coalition contends that FPL will continue their expansion into home services improperly using extensive customer data, infrastructure and market power to decimate local businesses and dominate their markets. They say FPL is unfairly using ratepayer funded resources from their regulated utility to force their way into new revenue streams and higher profits. They argue that the company’s goal is to leverage the its market power, aggressively recruit their employees, use predatory pricing to steal their customers and put them out of business.

As evidence of this unfair competition, the coalition points to a precedent that recently occurred when Baltimore Gas & Electric’s (BGE) entered the HVAC market as BGE Home. In that case, about 30 percent of locally owned and operated heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical service companies were forced out of business due to BGE’s unfair business practices.

 

Said Doug Lindstrom, President of SFACA, “The Public Service Commission and Legislature need to intervene to protect local family-owned businesses from unfair predatory practices. These small businesses and the jobs they provide are the backbone of our communities.”

“They will not stop with HVAC,” added Keith Martin, Co-Owner of Badger Bob’s Services, a Sarasota-based HVAC company. “If they are allowed to get away with it, they will continue their expansion into electrical, plumbing and additional industries.”

“We are not afraid to compete but we should not have to compete against a ratepayer funded monopoly.  We want a level and fair playing field,” said Jaime DiDomenico, President of Cool Today, an HVAC, plumbing and electrical company also based in Sarasota. “For our local businesses, our employees and our families, this is a fight for our lives.”

 

About Us

We are heating and air conditioning, electrical and plumbing service professionals from locally owned and operated small businesses as well as neighbors and members of your community who are concerned about Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) predatory practices. Specifically, FPL is using public resources to enter the HVAC market as FPL Energy Services. This subsidization of a private entity by a public utility will put many small companies out of business. We are not opposed to competition – just unfair competition by a ratepayer-funded monopoly. Together, we will fight FPL’s use of their name and logo, public resources and economies of scale to give them a competitive advantage in this market. For information, please visit us at www.mepcoalition.org.

 

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