Have you received one of these letters?
Have you received one of these letters offering ‘Water Service Line Coverage’ for your home?
A lot of people in Southwest Florida have been receiving them.
“Have you ever received a letter that looked like this?” NBC2 Investigator Rachel Polansky asked Ada Dennington, of Lee County.
“Absolutely,” said Dennington.
“Who did you think it came from?” asked Polansky.
“FP and L,” said Dennington.
“Why did you think that?” asked Polansky.
“Their logo is on the front, so I assumed immediately it’s from them,” said Dennington.
Residents started asking NBC2 if their electric utility, FPL, is now in the water business.
“I was just curious why FPL was getting involved with water pipe issues?” asked Jim Crumbid, of Lee County.
While the logos may look alike, these mailers are not from Florida Power and Light. They’re from FPL Energy Services.
“Consumers do not know that. It is not explicit. It is discreet,” said Jaime DiDomenico, president of air conditioning company, CoolToday.
DiDomenico claims it’s deceptive advertising.
“An average consumer won’t see anything but that FPL logo and that jagged symbol in there,” said DiDomenico.
Fort Myers contractor Jim Britton, said the same thing.
“It just doesn’t smell right,” said Jim Britton, president of air conditioning company, Southwest Florida Air Conditioning.
FPL Energy Services doesn’t only sell water service line coverage. The NBC2 Investigators found out it recently acquired a company called Jupiter-Tequesta, which offers air conditioning, plumbing, and electric services.
So, how can one company wear so many hats?
Jupiter-Tequesta is a subsidiary of FPL Energy Services -> FPL Energy Services is a subsidiary of FPL -> FPL is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy.
All four share the same main office, registered agent, and several of the same officers. Watch the video below for a break down.
The NBC2 Investigators also got their hands on this email from an FPL Energy Services recruiter who uses an FPL email address, and says he works “on behalf of Florida Power & Light.”
“Is FPL Energy Services breaking the law?” Polansky asked construction attorney, Tray Batcher.
“In my opinion, they are committing an advertisement violation under Chapter 489, yes,” said Tray Batcher, partner at Cotney Construction Law.
Batcher represents some of the contractors who are upset over the branding.
“They’re [FPLES] listing scopes of work that are outside what they’re qualified to do. They have a general contractor qualifying, and they’re advertising AC services. That’s a big licensing violation, that’s an advertising violation,” said Batcher. “I believe that 489.127 and 489.105(6) make it clear that you need to be licensed in the corresponding work to advertise as being available to engage in contracting for that work,” Batcher said.
“489.105(3) defines a CGC as being subject to 489.113, which says that a CGC cannot do ‘electrical, mechanical, plumbing, roofing, sheet metal, swimming pool, and air-conditioning work’ unless it is also licensed to do this work. Therefore, in my opinion, a CGC cannot specifically advertise for work related to or specifically as an electrical, mechanical, plumbing, roofing, sheet metal, swimming pool, or air-conditioning contractor without a corresponding license.”
Debbie Larsson, a spokesperson for NextEra Energy, tells NBC2 in a statement:
“NextEra Energy and our subsidiary companies operate efficiently by utilizing available resources where it makes sense to keep costs low for our customers. This practice is commonplace in corporate America. FPLES is an unregulated subsidiary of FPL. That means that FPLES is a separate company from FPL and that its operations are not regulated by the Florida Public Service Commission the way that FPL’s operations are regulated.”
As far as the logos and branding goes, Larsson said, “They are two separate logos.”
The NBC2 Investigators also reached out to the Florida Public Service Commission, the state agency that is responsible for regulating utilities like FPL. Spokesperson, Cindy Muir, told NBC2 in a statement:
“PSC staff has cautioned the company against misrepresenting the communications of unregulated subsidiaries.”
Florida contractors have also started a petition, asking Attorney General Ashley Moody to investigate FPL. The petition has more than 1700 signatures.
The AG’s Office tells the NBC2 Investigators that it’s “in the process of reviewing the petition to determine if it raises any issues.”