Florida Coalition Warns South Carolina Contractors about NextEra

Says Ratepayers & Small Businesses Will Suffer if Company Enters Market

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The MEP Coalition for Fair Competition (MEPCO) today sent a letter to the South Carolina Association of Heating & AC Contractors (SCAHACC) to warn them of the dire consequences if NextEra Energy enters the South Carolina market. NextEra Energy has recently expressed an interest in purchasing the failed state-owned utility Santee Cooper.

Even though the expansion for this facility was abandoned, more than 700,000 utility customers are still being charged for this project on their monthly bills. MEPCO claimed that this situation will only get worse for customers and small businesses if NextEra gains a foothold in that state’s energy sector.

As evidence of this, MEPCO stated that Florida Power & Light (FPL), a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, has made numerous attempts to leverage its ratepayer funded resources to subsidize its private enterprises. In response, the MEP Coalition for Fair Competition was formed to oppose FPL’s predatory practices. In particular, FPL is currently using its public resources to enter the home services market including air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical services.

MEP is an acronym for mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors. Coalition members consist of 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 aggressively entered the air conditioning, electrical & plumbing services and contracting business using a subsidiary called FPL Energy Services. In fact, Jupiter-Tequesta Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Heating is now promoting themselves as an FPL Energy Services Company. Left unchallenged, MEPCO’s argued 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.

This situation is not without precedent and recently occurred in Maryland 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.

MEPCO urged SCAHACC to contact their public officials and request that they deny NextEra Energy’s attempt to purchase any assets in their state. They stated that NextEra’s only goal is to profit at the expense of ratepayers and small businesses.

“We learned from the Maryland case so we’re forewarning the South Carolina Association of Heating & AC Contractors,” said Skip Farinhas, Vice President of SFACA and a spokesperson for MEPCO. “We don’t want them to look back and say, ‘We should have done something when we had the chance.’”

Read the letter here.

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