Tallahassee, Florida Backs Off Plan to Sell City's Electric Utility

Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox says "I don't like our long-term chances" for the city's municipally-owned electric company under electric deregulation, and has proposed that the city sell its municipal system in a series of town meetings.

City administrators suggested that selling the system would protect the city financially against the impacts of electric deregulation. The city's electricity profits -- about $33 million last year -- subsidize about a third of city services like parks and recreation. If either the state Legislature or Congress deregulates on the California model, the city's revenues could drop dramatically as large customers defect to other providers or force rate cut concessions at the expense of small customers and taxpayers.

Maddox said that by being among the first cities to sell, it would avoid a market glutted with power systems on the block. But his colleagues on the Commission did not agree. Commissioners Debbie Lightsey, Steve Meisburg and Charles Billings voted to stop all sale preparations so that administrators could focus on a strategy to keep local control while maintaining competitiveness under deregulation.

Copyright (c) 1998 by the American Local Power Project