Attorney wants PSC to drop No Name power issue

The Utility Board of Key West's March 7 decision to provide commercial power to No Name Key could nullify two residents' complaints to the state Public Service Commission.

Board attorney Nathan Eden filed a motion to dismiss the complaint by No Name residents Robert and Julianne Reynolds claiming final say over commercial electricity on the Lower Keys island of 43 homes lies with the PSC.

Eden's motion calls for dismissal on two grounds:

  • Keys Energy Services has entered into an agreement with the No Name Key Property Owners Association to provide commercial electricity. The island's home are now powered by solar power or generators or a combination of both.
  • The contract to provide commercial service makes the Reynolds' complaint "moot ... in that it provides the very relief sought" in the complaint.
  • Reynolds attorney Bart Smith told the Utility Board on March 7 that its vote to provide power would likely mean dropping the complaint. He said the PSC could simply issue a declaratory statement as to the utility's ability to issue power.

    But the decades-long battle over power on the island is far from over.

    Monroe County Circuit Court Judge David Audlin ruled on Jan. 31 that the PSC does have final say, which five No Name homeowners promptly appealed on Feb. 4. That appeal will be heard in the Third District Court of Appeal.

    Keys Energy planned to finalize a deal with the homeowners association last March to run commercial lines to No Name, but the county intervened, seeking declaratory judgment from Audlin.

    Monroe has concerns whether it's obligated to allow power lines over conservation land or issue permits to connect homes to power poles. Both are prohibited under county code.

    Chief Assistant County Attorney Bob Shillinger said he doesn't feel the PSC has jurisdiction over how the county's code is enforced.

    "That doesn't appear to me to be within their jurisdiction. The issue in the Third District will be whether Judge Audlin properly dismissed the case because of jurisdiction over the subject matter," he said.

    Meanwhile, Keys Energy spokesman Julio Barroso said the $650,000 cost to install the power lines hasn't held up since last year and that the utility will search for new contractors.

    "We're proceeding with issuing two [requests for proposals]. One is for the actual construction of the overhead system and the second is for the bridge attachment. The bidding process will take about two months, at which time they'll be placed back on the board agenda for approval," he said.