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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Brown, Clark among Florida Public Service Commission finalists headed to Scott

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 11:01 AM

  • Photo via Rick Scott/Facebook
The names of six finalists for two open positions on the Florida Public Service Commission were forwarded Tuesday to Gov. Rick Scott, with the list including two commissioners seeking reappointment to the panel that regulates utilities such as Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Gulf Power and Tampa Electric Co.

The Public Service Commission Nominating Council advanced —- without comment or opposition —- the six names to Scott after little more than an hour of interviews at the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

Scott has 30 days to make the two selections for the five-member Public Service Commission. The candidates for the $132,036-a-year positions are Commissioner Julie Brown, Commissioner Gary Clark, Anibal Taboas, Amir Liberman, Monica Rutkowski and Gregory Hill.

State Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican who chairs the nominating council, opened Tuesday’s meeting by announcing the panel was required to submit no fewer than six names to the governor. The state received 14 applications for the positions, and the council interviewed the minimum number of six candidates. The seats are open because the current terms of Brown and Clark expire in January.

Brown, an attorney from Tampa, talked of a continued need to keep the utility industry ahead of technology that could damage the power grid, while balancing customers’ desire for more control and more alternative sources of energy.

She also called the position a “job of a lifetime” when asked why she is seeking a third four-year term.

“As a lawyer, you can’t find a better position,” Brown said. “For someone like me, who has an interest in public policy, energy and the law, it just marries all of those topics.”

Brown has served on the Public Service Commission since January 2011. Scott reappointed her in 2014.

Clark said being reappointed would “provide continuity, would provide stability and predictability in the regulatory environment.”

Clark was appointed to the commission in September 2017 to complete the term of Jimmy Patronis, who was named by Scott to serve as Florida chief financial officer. Clark previously was a deputy secretary at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

State Rep. Mike La Rosa, a St. Cloud Republican who is vice chairman of the nominating council, told Clark he’s done a “phenomenal job so far on the commission.”

Taboas is an executive consultant with Strategic Leadership & Risk Management in Woodridge, Ill., an appointee to the Governors State University Board of Trustees and a member of the board of directors for the non-profit Center of Excellence for Hazardous Materials Management, according to an application.

A Puerto Rico native, Taboas, who interviewed for the Public Service Commission last year, said he considers Florida “home” as he owns undeveloped land in the state and has family members, including a daughter, who reside in Florida.

Liberman owns Consulting.Net, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, which provides software-related consulting work for Florida Power & Light. He is also a partner in Liberman Real Estate and Victoria Honey Farm, which his wife runs.

Liberman said he’s discussed his application with FPL.

“All of my obligations are either expiring or will expire by the time, should I get the position, by that time I will have fulfilled all my obligations,” Liberman said.

Rutkowski is an insurance regulatory-compliance consultant from Tallahassee who served as director of life and health product review for the Office of Insurance Regulation from 2005 to 2008. She also recently applied for the open position of commissioner of the state Office of Financial Regulation.

Rutkowski said she may have been “tough” as an insurance regulator, but she considered herself fair.

“I believe that with the insurance industry, with utilities, that we’re all on the same side,” Rutkowski said. “I think we want the right thing. We want to provide services that consumers want. We want to provide the affordable services. No one wants to be penalized and pay penalties and get bad press and get complaints from the industry.”

Hill has been an assistant general counsel with the Department of Corrections since March 2017.

Council members noted he has more experience in law enforcement than utilities.

Hill said he has an electromechanical engineering background at the Rochester Institute of Technology and worked in “power generation” while in the U.S. Army.

Previous positions held by Hill include serving as a senior attorney with the Florida Department of Financial Services.

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