Utility ballot measure sparks battle

State leaders and powerful business groups are trying to kill a proposed constitutional amendment that would lead to major changes in the way Floridians get electricity.

Opponents, including Attorney General Ashley Moody, legislative leaders, business groups and utilities, filed 13 briefs late last week at the Florida Supreme Court arguing that the proposal should be blocked from going on the November 2020 ballot.

The briefs were the latest batch of arguments about the proposal, which would uproot the long-established regulatory structure that leads to residents and businesses in much of the state receiving electricity from four utilities: Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Co. and Gulf Power.

The proposal, backed by a political committee known as Citizens for Energy Choices, calls for creating “competitive” electricity markets in which customers would have the right to choose electricity providers or to produce their own power. Supporters, including companies that want to supply electricity in Florida, point to a similar structure that Texas has used for nearly two decades.

But the opponents contend that the measure should never reach the ballot because it violates legal standards for citizens’ initiatives, such as tying together multiple subjects in a proposed constitutional amendment.

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