Floridians Should Applaud Silagy’s Exit from Florida Power & Light – Opinion | Opportunity For All Floridians

Floridians Should Applaud Silagy’s Exit from Florida Power & Light – Opinion

Recently Eric Silagy announced his departure as CEO of Florida Power & Light (FPL), one of the nation’s largest utility companies. While Silagy’s announcement was accompanied by kind words from the chairman of NextEra, FPL’s parent company, there is no doubt that his departure is earlier than intended.

Indeed, a recent Florida Times-Union article revealed that Silagy’s exit agreement includes a multi-year “claw back on compensation” if there is a finding of “any legal wrongdoing” – language that is not typical in a retirement package. 

The reference to potential “legal wrongdoing” barely hints at the negative impact Silagy has had on Florida’s environment, consumer protections and, indeed, our elections.  

Political involvement

One of the earliest indications of Silagy’s leadership style was in 2009 with his aggressive behind-the-scenes campaign to investigate Public Service Commission (PSC) commissioners and distribute negative materials about then-Gov. Charlie Crist and other critics, according to the Miami Herald. 

Eric Silagy, the president and CEO of Florida Power & Light during an interview Thursday, June 9, 2022. Eric Silagy, the president and CEO of Florida Power & Light along with Gera Peoples, the Vice President and Chief Litigation Council for NextEra Energy and David Reuter, the spokesperson for FPL met with reporters from The Florida Times-Union, the Orlando Sentinel, and Floodlight News in a lengthly interview in Jacksonville, FL to discuss the attempt by FPL to purchase the JEA, political funding and the use of outside agencies to facilitate FPL's activities. (Bob Self/Florida Times-Union] Bob Self/Florida Times-Union

More articles tagged "FPL":

One Florida Electricity Utility Saved $375 Million In Fuel Costs Last Year By Investing In Solar

Florida Power & Light, the largest electric utility in Florida, saved $375 million in fuel costs in 2022 by investing in solar. They also announced ...
Read More →

Why Is Your Electric Bill So High? New Reports Show How Power Companies Spend Your Money On Politics, and it’s 100% Legal

New reports reveal the extent to which major electric companies like FPL use money from your electric bill in lobbying and other political activities. And ...
Read More →

FPL Parent Company NextEra Slammed With Class Action Lawsuit Over Florida Election Fraud Allegations

FPL is in the news again — this time, their parent company NextEra Energy, has been slammed with a class-action lawsuit over FPL's alleged involvement ...
Read More →

The Next Disney-Style Takeover for DeSantis: The Gainesville Regional Utility

Just as the Florida Legislature advanced a law to claw back control over Disney's special taxing district, they advanced a separate bill to give Gov. ...
Read More →

With a more compliant PSC in place, Silagy engineered unprecedented rate hikes and high profits for FPL. In 2021, FPL got the commission to approve Florida’s largest rate increase ever. It is an agreement that will force FPL customers to pay $5 billion in higher costs over the next four years while FPL enjoys a profit margin that far exceeds that of any of the state’s other large electric companies. 

But Silagy’s biggest legacy may be the number of election-related controversies under his watch.

The first occurred in 2018 with a former Gainesville city commissioner’s state Senate run – which, the Gainesville Sun reported, FPL allegedly bankrolled to the tune of $200,000 through a nonprofit. This effort apparently had one mission: to siphon votes from Democratic challenger Kayser Enneking and re-elect FPL’s preferred candidate, state Sen. Keith Perry. And in November 2018, it did just that. 

This was apparently a dress rehearsal for multiple “ghost candidate” scandals in 2020. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the “ghost candidates” were unaffiliated independent candidates with mysterious sources of money (since connected to FPL consultants), who siphoned votes away from candidates FPL did not support.

Silagy was very clear about the candidates he didn’t like: In a 2019 email to two FPL executives, Silagy wrote the following about state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez: “I want you to make his life a living hell . . . seriously.” The state senator went on to lose re-election by a handful of votes

Fighting rooftop solar

We should also not forget about Silagy’s attacks on rooftop solar.

The first came in 2016, with “Consumers for Smart Solar,” the amendment crafted to fool voters into thinking it would foster the expansion of solar energy in Florida. This amendment, called a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” by former Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente, actually would have made it easier for FPL to kill pro-solar policies such as net metering. Voters saw through the ruse and rejected it

And just last year, reporting by the Guardian newspaper revealed that FPL lobbyists wrote a bill introduced in the Florida Senate that would have gutted Florida’s net metering rule. This bill would have hindered rooftop solar in the state, a longtime goal of Silagy’s. While that bill sailed through the Florida Legislature, Gov. Ron DeSantis ultimately vetoed it after receiving an outpouring of letters and calls from voters

Indeed, if there is any lesson to be learned from Silagy’s time at the helm of Florida’s largest electric company, it is that “we the people” must hold accountable all of the institutions – from the Florida Legislature to the Public Service Commission to the Governor’s Office – which should have been a check on FPL’s power.

Alissa Jean Shafer
Alissa Jean Schafer is a research and communications manager for the Energy and Policy Institute, an environmental watchdog organization.

This opinion piece originally appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Economic Opportunity Actions:

Add Your Name: Strengthen Protections for Homeowners Facing Construction Fraud

Write your Florida lawmakers to build a better financial safety net for Florida homeowners facing contractor fraud.
Add your name

Add your name: Support homeowners’ insurance rebates for Florida’s low-income seniors

The sharp increase in insurance premiums is pushing many seniors to the brink of losing their homes. Write your lawmakers to support SB 348, which ...
Add your name

Tell Florida Lawmakers: Help Us Lower Our Electricity Bills With Reliable and Affordable Energy Options

Volatile natural gas prices are driving electricity bills through the roof for families across Florida. Tell Florida lawmakers: we deserve reliable and affordable solar energy ...
Add your name

More articles about economic opportunity in Florida:

house renovation

Contractor Fraud Allegations Soar in Florida: Why the Homeowners Construction Recovery Fund Needs an Upgrade

Floridians who have to deal with fraudulent construction contractors are left with little recourse, and the state fund designed to help them recover funds is ...
Read More →
natural gas price volatility

Volatile Natural Gas Prices Are The Key To Florida’s Painful Electricity Bills

Many Florida residents struggle to pay their electricity bills, and the skyrocketing costs are due to the volatile natural gas market.
Read More →