Mediation to Resolve Dispute between Vero Beach and Indian River Shores
The dispute concerning the regulation of electric rate increases between Vero Beach and Indian River Shores is headed to mediation. By the end of the process, the two sides will either reach an agreement or agree to disagree, according to the Vero Beach city manager.
During the fall, the Indian River Shores Town Council created an autonomous electric utility authority. It was given the power to approve or reject rate increases after its franchise agreement with Vero Beach ended in November. Opponents claimed the move targets Vero Beach electric, which is outside the rate jurisdiction of the state Public Service Commission. They also claim the town’s actions violate the law and last month.
A month ago the Vero Beach City Council agreed it was time for mediation. State law encourages local officials to seek mediation regarding legal disputes because it saves money and is more efficient.
Both sides involved in the dispute claim they are hopeful a resolution will be simple and will not take a great deal of time. Vero Beach is coming to the table with a great deal of legal support, but Indian River Shores is not intimidated. According to a representative, the town plans to negotiate in good faith.
Vero Beach is the power provider to about 3500 residents in Indian River Shores. The town has already put Vero on notice that is intends to sever the relationship in November 2016. The end of the agreement would mean Indian River Shores is no longer obligated to maintain rights of way regarding electric lines, but Vero would retain customers.