Florida utilities regulator in turmoil over ethics questions

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Public Service Commission lobbyist who partied at the home of a power company executive resigned Tuesday and two more commission aides were placed on administrative leave as the controversy surrounding the state's utility regulators continued to churn.

The internal turmoil surrounding the agency prompted Commissioner Nancy Argenziano on Tuesday to call for a grand jury investigation into legislative and utility company influence on the PSC. And Sen. Mike Fasano — saying a "disaster is in the making'' — called for a state Senate investigation into the PSC that would force the staff and commissioners to answer questions under oath.

The PSC is grappling with growing questions about its closeness to the utilities it regulates, even as two of the state's largest — Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy — seek rate increases of about 30 percent beginning next year.

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