A 12-member state panel will meet Thursday in Orlando to decide which candidates to interview for two spots on the Florida Public Service Commission, a former lawmaker from Pensacola is among the 32 applicants.
Dave Murzin served in the state House of Representatives from 2002 until he was term limited out of office in 2010. Since then, he has sought other elected positions, including the Florida Senate and Escambia County Commission.
“I have lots of experience working with these issues,” said Murzin. “Water, wastewater, utility issues, and telecommunications issues in the Florida Legislature. I’m still involved in those issues and I want to take that experience to the next level.”
Murzin currently works as an aide to a state Senator and Scott ally, Greg Evers.
“Sen. Evers is supportive of the effort, and would put in a good word for me if I make it through the hurdles between now and then,” Murzin said."
The terms of commissioners Eduardo Balbis and Julie Brown expire in January. Brown is seeking another four years on the panel that regulates utilities; Balbis did not re-apply. The Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council forwards the names to Gov. Rick Scott, who will make the appointments. The nominees must then be confirmed by the state Senate.
As the search continues for two new Public Service Commission members, the commission is gearing up to deal with a number of issues, such as federal attempts to phase out coal-fired power plants. President Obama last month announced the most sweeping effort to date to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. The new rule from the EPA limits the amount of carbon pollution from coal power plants.
“We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury, sulfur and arsenic the power plants put in our air and water,” said Obama, “but they can dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air. It’s not smart, it’s not safe, and it doesn’t make sense.”
The total effect of those options could cut the amount of carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by up to 20%. But Dave Murzin wants to know, at what cost to the states?
“The federal government single-handedly has said ‘phase out this form of generating power in the state of Florida,’” Murzin said. “You’ve got to balance that federal requirement with the rate-payers. And people here in northwest Florida and across the state have to figure out how to pay for that federal mandate.”
Besides Dave Murzin, the list of applicants also includes state Rep. Jimmy Patronis. The Republican from Panama City is leaving the Legislature this year due to term limits. Members of the Florida Public Service Commission are paid $131,000 per year.