Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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FAQs about the Office of Public Counsel
Q. Who pays for the Office of Public Counsel?
A. The Public Counsel is funded by general revenue. You do not pay for the Public Counsel through your utility bill.
Q. Does the Public Counsel work for the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC)?
A. Absolutely not. The Office of Public Counsel is not accountable in any way to the FPSC and is independent of the FPSC.
Q. If the FPSC establishes a policy or rule, can the Public Counsel argue against that rule?
A. Yes. Under Florida law, the Public Counsel can urge any position which he or she deems to be in the public interest, whether consistent or inconsistent with positions previously adopted by the commission or the counties.
Q. Who does the Public Counsel work for?
A. The Public Counsel works for the Citizens of the State of Florida through the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight (JCPO) — a joint Committee of the Florida House and Senate.
Q. Is the Public Counsel the same as the Public Defender?
A. No. The Public Defender represents the criminally accused; the Public Counsel appears in utility cases.
Q. Under what statutory authority does the Office of Public Counsel exist?
A. Section 350.0611 of the Florida Statutes.
Q. Does the Public Counsel represent the citizens of Florida against all utilities?
A. No. The Public Counsel only represents citizens in utility cases over which the FPSC has jurisdiction. The FPSC has no jurisdiction over municipally (city or county) owned utilities and very little over electric cooperatives. Public Counsel authority is slightly different in water and wastewater utilities. If you have a question regarding Public Counsel authority in water and wastewater utilities, you should either click on the 'contact' button at the top of this page, or call us toll-free at 1-800-342-0222.
Q. I live in a county in which the FPSC has no water and wastewater jurisdiction. Does Public Counsel have authority in my county?
A. Yes. Public Counsel's authority in water and wastewater extends into counties where the FPSC has no jurisdiction.
Q. Can the Public Counsel appeal decisions of the FPSC?
A. Yes. Public Counsel can appeal decisions of the FPSC to the appellate courts of our state and sometimes does.
Q. My utility has asked the FPSC for a rate increase. How do I get the Public Counsel involved?
A. You should either click on the 'contact' button at the top of this page, or call us toll-free at 1-800-342-0222. The Public Counsel routinely intervenes in large utility cases. However, in smaller cases, especially in water and wastewater cases, Public Counsel involvement is upon the request of customers. If you believe the Public Counsel should become involved in ANY case, you should contact our office.
Q. What is the size of the Office of Public Counsel?
A. The Office of Public Counsel is currently composed of fifteen positions, six of which are experienced members of the Florida Bar. The office also includes legislative analysts who are experienced in utility matters, as well as administrative support staff.
Q. Does the Office of Public Counsel retain outside expertise?
A. Yes. The Office of Public Counsel occasionally retains expert analysis and testimony where the complexity of the case and resources justify.
Q. Where is the Office of Public Counsel located?
A. The office is in the Claude Pepper Building in Tallahassee.
Q. We would like the Public Counsel or a member of his or her team to appear before our civic association. How can we contact the Public Counsel for this purpose?
A. You should either use the contact form
on this site, or call us toll-free at 1-800-342-0222.