9 Investigates state's 4 largest utilities

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ORLANDO, Fla. - A new report on the state’s four largest utilities is raising questions about how much the companies are spending to influence lawmakers and control the rates they charge customers.

The report by the nonpartisan government watchdog group Integrity Florida shows the four largest utilities, Duke, Florida Power and Light, Gulf Power and Tampa Electric have spent more than $18 million on campaign contributions from 2002-2012 and employ almost 100 lobbyists at the Capitol.

“Our report found that those four companies spent more than $30 million on lobbying and campaigns in the last few years,” said Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida.  “They have a significant army of lobbyists at the Capitol, and they’re pushing for rate increases with our money.”

The report also found that five former members of the public service commission, the state agency directly in charge of utilities, now hold positions with lobbyist groups representing Florida Power and Light. 

Last December, public service commission approved a rate hike for FP&L.

“Our power bills should tell us more about where our money is going,” said Krassner.  “Lawmakers that have ties to utility companies should be disclosing that online for public to see.”

The companies contacted by Eyewitness News for our report said the amount spent on lobbying is not all that different than other industries. 

In addition, FP&L issued an April press release stating that its residential rates for the last five years have been the “lowest in the state” and “about 25 percent lower than the national average.”