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PW Ventures v. Nichols

533 So. 2d 281 (1988)

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PW Ventures v. Nichols

Florida Supreme Court

533 So. 2d 281 (1988)

Facts

PW Ventures (plaintiff) was a Florida corporation that was regulated as a public utility. PW Ventures sought to construct, own, and operate a combined-heat-and-power cogeneration power plant. PW Ventures signed a letter of intent to provide electric and thermal power to Pratt and Whitney (Pratt). PW Ventures was to build a cogeneration plant on land leased from Pratt and sell its electric output to Pratt under a long-term contract. Before construction commenced, PW Ventures requested that the Florida Public Service Commission (the commission) (defendant) issue a declaratory statement that PW Ventures would not be subject to the regulation of the commission as a public utility. However, the commission determined that PW Ventures would be regulated as a public utility under the terms of the proposed agreement between PW Ventures and Pratt. The commission examined the definition of public utility from the applicable statute, § 336.02(1) of the Florida Statutes. The definition classified every person or entity that supplied electricity or gas “to or for the public” as a public utility. The commission interpreted supplying electricity “to or for the public” to include sales to any member of the public. The commission reasoned that its interpretation was correct because the legislature specifically exempted from regulation direct sales of natural gas to industrial customers and water-sewer utility service to fewer than 100 persons, but it made no similar exemptions for electric service. PW Ventures appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Grimes, J.)

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