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McCutcheon Air Conditioning and Heating Blog

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Coalition Launches To Oppose FPL’s Predatory Expansion

You may have seen a recent Herald Tribune article about a group of Southwest Florida air conditioning contractors that have organized in opposition to FPL’s expansion into for-profit home services.

Perhaps you just saw the headline, “Private contractors organize coalition to oppose FPL’s new services”, and decided, “this doesn’t affect me”, but here’s why you should be concerned…

Florida Power & Light (FPL), the largest utility in the state (and the 3rd largest in the country), recently purchased Jupiter-Tequesta Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical and re-branded it as FPL Energy Services. This unregulated subsidiary is leveraging the assets of its state-regulated parent and improperly accessing the data of its 10 million customers to offer them services like surge protection, water heater and plumbing protection, and now air conditioning maintenance.

Tucked neatly in your utility bill, you’ll find a too-good-to-be-true AC Maintenance offer from FPL Energy Services, but that’s just what it is – too good to be true…

The following is the press release from MACCA:

***PRESS RELEASE***

COALITION LAUNCHES TO OPPOSE FPL’S PREDATORY EXPANSION

A state-wide small business alliance called the MEP Coalition for Fair Competition launched today to oppose Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) predatory practices. Specifically, the coalition stated that the company is using its public resources for private gain in the home services market including air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical services. MEP is an acronym for mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors. www.MEPCoalition.org
Coalition organizers include the South Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SFACA), the Southwest Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SWACCA), the Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association (MACCA) and the Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (FRACCA).

 

FPL is leveraging assets from their regulated ratepayer funded utility monopoly to expand into new for-profit businesses. They aggressively entered the air conditioning, electrical & plumbing services and contracting business using a subsidiary called FPL Energy Services. Jupiter- Tequesta Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Heating is now promoting themselves as an FPL Energy Services Company. In addition, their website features a photo of a Jupiter-Tequesta co-branded truck and FPL Energy Services Home Solutions branded truck. The company claims to now serve 30,000 customers from Lucie to Broward County.

Left unchallenged, the coalition contends that FPL will continue their expansion into home services improperly using extensive customer data, infrastructure and market power to decimate local businesses and dominate their markets. They say FPL is unfairly using ratepayer funded resources from their regulated utility to force their way into new revenue streams and higher profits. They argue that their goal is to leverage the company’s market power, aggressively recruit their employees, use predatory pricing to steal their customers and put them out of business.

As evidence of this unfair competition, the coalition points to a precedent that recently occurred when Baltimore Gas & Electric’s (BGE) entered the HVAC market as BGE Home. In that case, about 30 percent of locally owned and operated heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical service companies were forced out of business due to BGE’s unfair business practices.

Said Doug Lindstrom, President of SFACA, “The Public Service Commission and Legislature need to intervene to protect local family owned businesses from unfair predatory practices. These small businesses and the jobs they provide are the backbone of our communities.”

“They will not stop with HVAC,” added Keith Martin, Co-Owner of Badger Bob’s Services, a Sarasota-based HVAC company. “If they are allowed to get away with it, they will continue their expansion into electrical, plumbing and additional industries.”

“We are not afraid to compete but we should not have to compete against a ratepayer funded monopoly. We want a level and fair playing field,” said Jaime DiDomenico, President of Cool Today, an HVAC company also based in Sarasota. “For our local businesses, our employees and our families, this is a fight for our lives.”

About MEP Coalition for Fair Competition

We are heating and air conditioning, electrical and plumbing service professionals from locally owned and operated small businesses as well as neighbors and members of your community who are concerned about Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) predatory practices. Specifically, FPL is using public resources to enter the HVAC market as FPL Energy Services. This subsidization of a private entity by a public utility will put many small companies out of business. We are not opposed to competition – just unfair competition by a ratepayer-funded monopoly. Together, we will fight FPL’s use of their name and logo, public resources and economies of scale to give them a competitive advantage in this market.

http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180912/private-contractors-organize-coalition-to-oppose-fpls-new-services

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