Florida House Bill 491 Advances from House Regulatory Affairs Committee
On February 4, 2016, the Florida House Regulatory Affairs Committee voted unanimously to advance House Bill 491 (“HB 491”). HB 491 will exempt owners in all counties from regulation by the Florida Public Service Commission (“PSC”), provided that the owner does not bill to its residents more than it is charged by the providing utility plus 9% of the charges to represent administrative costs for reading and billing residents.
The current landscape in Florida is that the PSC regulates owners as utilities in 37 of the 67 counties in the State. In regulated counties, the total of the amounts billed to residents (including any administrative fees) cannot exceed the amount charged to the property by the providing utility. The remaining non-regulated counties do not have this restriction.
HB 491 will remove the distinction between regulated and non-regulated counties. All counties will have the restriction of the amounts charged by the utility, plus the 9% for billing fees (in addition to amount charged). The effect of HB 491 for previously regulated counties is that they can bill out 100% of their utility costs and include administrative fees (up to 9% of current charges). This will represent a recovery opportunity in the previously regulated counties. The effect for non-regulated counties is that they will be subject to the 9% administrative fee cap. Properties in these counties may have to modify their resident-paid fees should HB 491 become law.
The proposed effective date of HB 491 is July 1, 2016. HB 491 has been placed on the House Calendar for a vote and it is likely that it will be approved by the House. The bill will then go to the Senate. NWP is monitoring these legislative activities.