TALLAHASSEE — Florida Public Service Commission members Art Graham and Andrew Fay, along with a former congressional aide for Gov. Ron DeSantis, are among 10 candidates seeking to be named to the utility-regulatory panel.
Unlike with other recent openings on the five-member commission, the list of candidates does not include members of the Legislature.
Graham and Fay, whose terms will expire in January, are seeking reappointment to the commission. Graham joined the PSC in 2010 after being appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist and was reappointed twice by former Gov. Rick Scott. Fay was appointed by Scott.
In his new application, Graham pointed to his experience on the commission, which regulates major electric utilities, along with water, gas and telecommunications companies.
“In addition to competence and knowledge in the fields of public affairs, economics, engineering, natural resource conservation and energy developed through education and professional experience prior to serving on the PSC, I have served years as a commissioner in which I developed direct experience with applicable law, accounting and finance,” Graham wrote.
Fay, who served as a deputy to former Attorney General Pam Bondi, was appointed to the PSC in 2018. In his new application, Fay praised the benefits of “customer engagement” to understand challenges facing utility customers.
“The more customer hearings I have participated in, the better I have gotten at identifying and comprehending how this feedback can be used in making our decisions,” Fay wrote. “In addition to customer engagement, I have also had the opportunity to present to various groups about the regulatory functions of the commission and to opine on some of the more pressing issues that our state is facing. Those issues include the growth of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, threats of cybersecurity to the electric grid and the need for a more diversified energy workforce.”
Also applying were Ebo Entsuah, who won a special election in January to the Clermont City Council, and Steven Petty, making his fifth bid for a seat on the commission.
Entsuah noted in his application that he previously worked for DeSantis, rising from an intern to an aide before DeSantis left Congress for his 2018 gubernatorial run.
“As a legislative aide for Gov. Ron DeSantis when he served in Congress, I carried a portfolio that included energy policy, allowing me to better understand the details and nuances of a 21st Century grid and how changes to the grid can affect Floridians,” Entsuah wrote. “New energy innovations such as solar tariffs, energy efficiency goals and electric vehicle initiatives have saved ratepayers thousands of dollars and added jobs to a steady growing sector that currently employs 153,000 people in the state. The Public Service Commission can continue the progress utilities have made with these innovations and apply them in conjunction with state statute in order to better the lives of Floridians.”
Entsuah was a walk-on fullback for the football team while a student at Florida State University, where he studied international affairs and earned a law degree. He is a legislative policy principal for Washington, D.C.-based Advanced Energy Economy. In his application, Entsuah said the trade association hasn’t been directly regulated by the commission but might represent companies that periodically go before the commission.
Petty, a senior marketing coordinator with the infrastructure design firm HNTB Corp., was briefly chief economist at the Tallahassee-based group Florida TaxWatch.
“I am seeking to put my economics and public policy training and experience to the highest use by serving the residents of Florida,” Petty wrote in his application.
Candidates for the PSC seats faced a Tuesday deadline to file applications, which will be reviewed by the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council. That panel will conduct interviews and recommend a short list of finalists to DeSantis. The 12-member council is chaired by Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, with members also including Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula; Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton; Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville; Rep. David Silvers, D-Lake Clarke Shores; and Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, R-Saint Johns.
The upcoming appointments will be the third time DeSantis has made picks for the commission.
In May, DeSantis selected Gabriella Passidomo, daughter of Senate Rules Chairwoman Kathleen Passidomo, over three other finalists, including state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood.
Gabriella Passidomo, who had spent two years working as an attorney for the commission, replaced longtime Commissioner Julie Brown, who was appointed in February by DeSantis as secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
In 2020, DeSantis picked former state Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, for the commission. He replaced former Commissioner Donald Polmann, whose term expired.
Other candidates who applied before Tuesday’s deadline:
— Ria Lee Shue Ling, of Loxahatchee, a civil engineer who recently started a consulting firm.
— Belinda Little-Wood, who has been involved in the disaster recovery industry for more than 15 years, and listed her occupation as president of 10th Capital Small Business Advisors, LLC in New Orleans.
— Brian Byrd, a criminal-defense and family-law attorney from Longwood who noted in his application the coronavirus pandemic has slowed business, and “with that is an opportunity to make a change.”
— Anibal Taboas, an executive consultant with Strategic Leadership & Risk Management in Woodridge, Ill. A prior applicant for the commission, she was interviewed for positions in 2017 and 2018.
— William Wheeler, Jr., of High Springs, a retired Progress Energy and Duke Energy operations team supervisor.
— Kenneth Petersen, a former Comcast marketing director who was a delicatessen associate at a Tallahassee Publix from 2013 to 2019.