"Eight years ago, the City of Vero Beach asked us to consider buying their system in the hopes of reducing the cost of electricity for its residents. Since that time, we have worked with the City, state and federal regulators, the Orlando Utilities Commission, the Florida Municipal Power Agency, 19 cities and many other stakeholders to make this a reality," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "We are thrilled to reach the final step in a very long process, and we look forward to welcoming 35,000 new customers into the FPL family this fall."
"Four years ago, I first ran on a platform promise to work hard to help deliver the sale of Vero Electric to FPL. Thanks to the diligence of so many and the patience of our great partner, Florida Power & Light, I was able to keep that promise," said Harry Howle, mayor of the City of Vero Beach.
In 2009, the City of Vero Beach asked FPL to explore a potential purchase of its electric system with the goal of lowering rates for its customers. FPL and the City worked together over the years that followed to develop a solution that would bring FPL's lower rates, high reliability and clean energy to the City's electric system customers without negatively impacting FPL's existing customers.
Last fall, the Vero Beach City Council approved a $185 million agreement that allows the City to exit its contractual obligations, pay off its existing debt and receive a cash payment, while ensuring that FPL's existing customers also benefit.
"Today, a decade of hard work came to fruition, and we're lucky to now have FPL as our power provider," said Bob Solari, vice chairman of the Indian River County Commission. "Private sector ingenuity always trumps the public sector's best solutions."
"This is a win-win for us. It's a win for the residents of Vero Beach, and a win for the Indian River County customers living outside city limits," said Indian River County Commissioner Tim Zorc. "With this decade-long dispute behind us, our community can now look forward to reaping the benefits of this deal."
In addition to the state regulatory review, FPL and the City overcame numerous hurdles and secured numerous other approvals and agreements that were necessary to move forward. Key milestones included:
- Two separate City-wide elections were held in which voters overwhelmingly approved ballot questions related to the transaction.
- The Orlando Utilities Commission, Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) and 19 of FMPA's member cities signed off on agreements to resolve City's existing wholesale power contracts
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission examined components of the transaction and determined the proposal to be consistent with the public interest.
"Today's PSC action brings to conclusion nearly a decade of work by myself and countless other community leaders to lower electric rates, improve reliability and restore equity for all customers throughout Indian River County," said State Senator Debbie Mayfield.
With today's approval, FPL will continue to work closely with the City to integrate the two systems. Currently, the target closing date for the purchase is Oct. 1, 2018, at which time the City's 35,000 customers, electric system assets and employees will officially become part of FPL's system.
"Local residents and business owners have been awaiting this sale for years. It's nice to know that the FPL rates and service we've been hoping for are finally coming our way," said Jeff Thompson, Vero Beach resident and local business owner.
While the prices of almost all products and services have risen in recent years, FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill has remained very low. In fact, FPL's typical bill is lower today than it was more than 10 years ago, about 20 percent lower than the City of Vero Beach, and about 30 percent lower than the national average.
Also, FPL provides award-winning customer service and, in 2017, reduced outage time for customers to its lowest level ever. In addition, FPL's carbon emissions rate is about 30 percent cleaner than the industry average.