THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, Dec. 14, 2010 --
In one of his last few acts in office, outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist put Eduardo Balbis on the Florida Public Service Commission a month early.
Balbis, who is serving the remainder of former PSC Commissioner Nancy Argenziano’s term, comes to the high-profile utility regulation panel from the much lower-wattage world of municipal government. In September, Crist appointed Balbis, a former West Palm Beach city official, to replace Argenziano when her term was scheduled to expire in January.
But then the ever-unpredictable Argenziano, a former state lawmaker, resigned to make an endorsement in the race to replace Crist. Because the PSC still had a quorum even without her, Crist did not have to fill Argenziano’s seat early – and he took his time doing so – but he eventually turned to the 38-year-old Balbis.
Though Balbis has been sworn-in and is already ruling on issues before the PSC, his position on the commission isn’t totally secure. Gov-elect Rick Scott has the power to recall Crist's PSC picks as soon as he takes office in January, which Crist did to some former Gov. Jeb Bush appointees when he took office in 2007. Then, Crist replaced Bush's final two picks with Argenziano and Commissioner Nathan Skop.
Even if Balbis survives the ascension of the new governor, he will still have to be confirmed by lawmakers, a feat two commissioners last year were unable to accomplish.
Facing that reality, he talked briefly to the News Service of Florida Tuesday during an intermission in his second full commission meeting. Here are five questions for Florida’s newest utility regulator and his responses:
NSF: How has actually serving on the commission been compared to your expectations of it when you were appointed?
BALBIS: It’s a little overwhelming at first, but I’ve met a lot of good people and my staff has really helped me out in getting prepared, getting me up to speed to be able to vote on these issues.
NSF: Do you sense any advantages in getting to come on early as opposed to waiting until January?
BALBIS: I think whatever time you come you have to be prepared to vote and decide on the issues that you’re facing. No matter what time you come on, you still have that same challenge. On items that are deferred, of course you do have additional time to get prepared for those.
NSF: How have your relationships been with the other commissioners? That was a topic that was in the news, how the commissioners were relating with each other.
BALBIS: I enjoy working with the four other commissioners. It’s been a great experience.
NSF: Have you had a chance to talk to Commissioner-designate Julie Brown to give her any advice for when she comes up?
BALBIS: We talked during the selection process…and I got to know her through then. Other than, I haven’t had too much communication with her.
NSF: Have you had a chance to introduce yourself to some of the lawmakers?
BALBIS: I did attend the first committee meeting on energy. I was introduced by former Chairman Carter at that meeting, so I was able to meet a few of the members.