Lame duck PSC member resigns early

TALLAHASSEE – One of two Public Service Commission members whom Gov. Charlie Crist has refused to reappoint resigned Monday so her successor can take office before the panel rules on rate increases being sought by the state’s two largest power companies.

Commissioner Katrina McMurrian resigned effective immediately.

Crist last week declined to reappoint McMurrian and Commission Chairman Matthew Carter when their terms expire Jan. 2 amid allegations that some of the five commissioners and staff members have been too cozy with the utilities they regulate.

Crist, who is opposed to the base rate increases of about 30 percent each being sought by Florida Power & Light Co. and Progress Energy Florida, instead named two appointees without experience in utility regulation.

The governor has asked the commission to delay action in both cases until the new members take office, which McMurrian noted in her letter of resignation to Crist.

“I respect this request and want to ensure that the new Commission is positioned to set the course for the agency, one guided by different leadership,” McMurrian said in the letter.

Carter said through a commission spokeswoman that he had no intention of resigning before his term expires.

One of new appointees is David Klement, 69, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Leadership at the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus and a former Bradenton Herald editorial page editor.

The other is Pensacola accountant Benjamin “Steve” Stevens, 44, part owner of a bar and package store in Cantonment and former chief financial officer for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.