Sugarmill Woods Civic Ass'n, Inc. v. Southern States Utilities, Nos. 95-425

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtDAVIS
Citation687 So.2d 1346
Decision Date04 February 1997
Docket Number95-457,Nos. 95-425
Parties22 Fla. L. Weekly D373 SUGARMILL WOODS CIVIC ASSOCIATION, INC. f/k/a Cypress & Oaks Villages Association, Inc. and Spring Hill Civic Association, Appellant, v. SOUTHERN STATES UTILITIES and Florida Public Service Commission, Appellees. HERNANDO COUNTY, Appellant, v. SOUTHERN STATES UTILITIES and Florida Public Service Commission, Appellees.

Page 1346

687 So.2d 1346
22 Fla. L. Weekly D373
SUGARMILL WOODS CIVIC ASSOCIATION, INC. f/k/a Cypress & Oaks Villages Association, Inc. and Spring Hill Civic Association, Appellant,
v.
SOUTHERN STATES UTILITIES and Florida Public Service Commission, Appellees.
HERNANDO COUNTY, Appellant,
v.
SOUTHERN STATES UTILITIES and Florida Public Service Commission, Appellees.
Nos. 95-425, 95-457.
District Court of Appeal of Florida,
First District.
Feb. 4, 1997.

Page 1347

An appeal from an order of the Florida Public Service Commission.

Susan W. Fox of Macfarlane, Ausley, Ferguson & McMullen, Tampa, for Appellant/Sugarmill Woods Civic Association.

Michael B. Twomey, Tallahassee, for Appellant/Spring Hill Civic Association.

Robert Bruce Snow, Brooksville, for Appellant/Hernando County.

Robert D. Vandiver, General Counsel; and Christiana T. Moore, Associate General Counsel, Tallahassee, for Appellee/Florida Public Service Commission.

Arthur J. England, Jr., of Greenberg, Traurig, Hoffman, Lipoff, Rosen and Quentel, P.A., Miami; Brian P. Armstrong, Apopka; and Kenneth A. Hoffman and William B. Willingham of Rutledge, Ecenia, Underwood, Purnell & Hoffman, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellee/Southern States Utilities, Inc.

DAVIS, Judge.

Appellants, Sugarmill Woods Civic Association (Sugarmill), Spring Hill Civic Association (Spring Hill), and Hernando County, seek review of an order rendered by the Public Service Commission (PSC) on January

Page 1348

11, 1995. In that order, the PSC set uniform statewide rates for water and wastewater customers of Southern States Utilities, Inc.'s (SSU) systems in Florida, and set a separate rate for SSU bulk sales of wastewater service to Hernando County. Appellants also appeal an interlocutory order in which the PSC granted motions to quash subpoenas duces tecum, thereby denying certain discovery sought by appellant Hernando County. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm the order quashing the subpoenas, as well as the Hernando County bulk wastewater rate. We, however, reverse the order setting a uniform statewide rate structure for SSU customers because that order does not contain the findings necessary to establish the PSC's jurisdiction to set the rates.

The PSC and SSU both concede that the order setting a uniform statewide rate structure for SSU customers is defective because it lacks the findings that this court has held are a necessary predicate to establishing PSC jurisdiction to set rates effective in both jurisdictional and non-jurisdictional counties. See Citrus County v. Southern States Utilities, 656 So.2d 1307 (Fla. 1st DCA), review denied mem., 663 So.2d 631 (Fla.1995); Board of County Commissioners of St. Johns County v. Beard, 601 So.2d 590 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992). After filing of the notice of appeal in this case, the PSC moved to relinquish jurisdiction back to the PSC due to its failure to make these findings. The PSC more recently filed a motion to dismiss the appeal from the order setting uniform statewide rates, contending that this appeal is moot, confessing error, and reciting that it has now retracted the uniform statewide rate structure and established modified stand-alone rates effective in jurisdictional counties. Although we accept the PSC's confession of error, we reject its contention that the appeal is moot.

It is regrettable that the resolution of this issue has been unnecessarily complicated by the piecemeal manner in which it has been addressed. On January 27, 1993, SSU filed a petition for a declaratory statement regarding PSC jurisdiction over SSU's water facilities in St. Johns County. While that case was pending, on March 22, 1993, in a separate proceeding, the PSC issued a final order approving a new rate structure for SSU in the form of statewide uniform rates for the customers served by 127 water and wastewater utility systems owned by SSU in Florida. Citrus County and Cypress and Oaks Villages Association appealed the PSC's decision to approve uniform rates. This court reversed, holding that in order to have authority to set uniform statewide rates, the PSC must make a finding that the facilities and land are part of a single functionally related system. The Court explained:

We conclude that chapter 367, Florida Statutes, does not give the PSC authority to set uniform statewide rates that cover a number of utility systems related only in their fiscal functions by reason of common ownership. Florida law instead allows uniform rates only for a utility system that is composed of facilities and land functionally related in the providing of water and wastewater utility service to the public. Section 367.171(7), Florida Statutes (1991), grants the PSC exclusive jurisdiction, with some exceptions, over "all utility systems whose service transverses county boundaries." The term "system" is defined as "facilities and land used or useful in providing service and, upon a finding by the commission, may include a combination of functionally related facilities and land." § 367.021, Fla.Stat. (1991) ...

In Citrus County this court held that the March 22, 1993, order set statewide rates without making the necessary predicate finding that the facilities and land formed a functionally related system, and therefore the PSC lacked authority to set statewide uniform rates. Citrus County, 656 So.2d at 1309-10. We explained further that "functionally related" systems need not be physically interconnected, but must be integrated in the operational aspects of utility service delivery, not merely administratively or fiscally...

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4 practice notes
  • Southern States Utilities v. Florida Public Service Com'n, No. 96-4227
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 10 de junho de 1998
    ...governing the PSC's ratemaking were at issue in Citrus County and in Sugarmill Woods Civic Association v. Southern States Utilities, 687 So.2d 1346 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997). The present case resembles Citrus County in that the PSC's jurisdiction is not at issue. In Sugarmill, however, Southern S......
  • Florida Power Corp. v. Garcia, No. SC94665.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 1 de março de 2001
    ...case law developed in interim would have provided a basis for the claim); Sugarmill Woods Civic Ass'n, Inc. v. Southern States Utilities, 687 So.2d 1346, 1349 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997) (holding that intervening PSC order reflecting that PSC had jurisdiction over certain facilities should not be r......
  • 3B TV, INC. v. State, Office of Atty. Gen., No. 1D99-1760.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 24 de setembro de 2001
    ...provisions. Id. The Supreme Court's decision in Bradenton II applies here. See Sugarmill Woods Civic Ass'n v. Southern States Utils., 687 So.2d 1346 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997); Hillhaven Corp. v. Dep't of Health and Rehabilitative Services, 625 So.2d 1299 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993); rev. denied, 634 So.2......
  • 3Btv Inc v. State, 1
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 24 de setembro de 2001
    ...provisions. Id. The Supreme Court's decision in Bradenton II applies here. See Sugarmill Woods Civic Ass'n v. Southern States Utils., 687 So. 2d 1346 (Fla. 1 st DCA 1997); Hillhaven Corp. v. Florida Dep't of Health and Rehabilitative Servs., 625 So. 2d 1299 (Fla. 1 st DCA 1993); rev. denied......
4 cases
  • Southern States Utilities v. Florida Public Service Com'n, No. 96-4227
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 10 de junho de 1998
    ...governing the PSC's ratemaking were at issue in Citrus County and in Sugarmill Woods Civic Association v. Southern States Utilities, 687 So.2d 1346 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997). The present case resembles Citrus County in that the PSC's jurisdiction is not at issue. In Sugarmill, however, Southern S......
  • Florida Power Corp. v. Garcia, No. SC94665.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 1 de março de 2001
    ...case law developed in interim would have provided a basis for the claim); Sugarmill Woods Civic Ass'n, Inc. v. Southern States Utilities, 687 So.2d 1346, 1349 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997) (holding that intervening PSC order reflecting that PSC had jurisdiction over certain facilities should not be r......
  • 3B TV, INC. v. State, Office of Atty. Gen., No. 1D99-1760.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 24 de setembro de 2001
    ...provisions. Id. The Supreme Court's decision in Bradenton II applies here. See Sugarmill Woods Civic Ass'n v. Southern States Utils., 687 So.2d 1346 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997); Hillhaven Corp. v. Dep't of Health and Rehabilitative Services, 625 So.2d 1299 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993); rev. denied, 634 So.2......
  • 3Btv Inc v. State, 1
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 24 de setembro de 2001
    ...provisions. Id. The Supreme Court's decision in Bradenton II applies here. See Sugarmill Woods Civic Ass'n v. Southern States Utils., 687 So. 2d 1346 (Fla. 1 st DCA 1997); Hillhaven Corp. v. Florida Dep't of Health and Rehabilitative Servs., 625 So. 2d 1299 (Fla. 1 st DCA 1993); rev. denied......

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