Advocates call on City Council to reject TECO franchise

12/03/08 Mitch E. Perry
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A day before the Tampa City Council is scheduled to vote on a new 25-year franchise agreement between the city and Tampa Electric Co., critics of the plan called today for Council members to press for a better deal.

Dr. Warren Clark, pastor of First United Church of Tampa, said delaying a vote on the franchise agreement with TECO for at least six months would allow for several provisions to make TECO executives move toward cleaner energy alternatives.

Steven Breslow is the energy chair with the Tampa Sierra Club. He said energy policies for this country are now undergoing massive changes, and mentioned President-Elect Barack Obama’s frequent comments that he hopes to reinvigorate the economy by creating green jobs to the workplace.

C.J. Reynolds is a community representative and member of the Tampa Homeowners Association Neighborhoods. She said the neighborhood group hired an expert who evaluated the franchise agreement and identified six terms that will benefit the citizens and the city.

An editorial in Tuesday’s St. Petersburg Times chided advocates for pushing the City Council on the franchise agreement, saying that that requiring TECO to more on energy efficiency and conservation falls under the authority of the state, not a municipality. But Reynolds says the community can’t trust regulators.

The advocates for a better energy deal need one City Council member to change their minds from a previous vote on the deal. Thomas Scott, Charlie Miranda, Gwen Miller and Joseph Catano all previously voted in support of the plan. But according to Reynolds, lobbying by citizens like her appear to be going nowhere.

TECO’s website says it is "moving quickly to meet tomorrow’s needs for efficient and environmentally responsible electricity generation”- and the company has indicated that it has no desire to re-work any parts of the contract negotiated with Mayor Pam Iorio.

The discussion and vote on the issue is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Tampa City Hall.

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