By CHRISTINE STAPLETON
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 04, 2008
WEST PALM BEACH — A Broward County man has filed a lawsuit against Florida Power & Light on behalf of about 38,000 customers who gave FPL $9.75 every month to help develop green energy - only to learn most of the money was not used for that purpose.
Paul Zedeck, "an environmentally concerned citizen," is seeking class action status. He claims in his lawsuit that FPL "committed deceptive and unfair trade practices by misrepresenting the true nature, purpose and execution of the Sunshine Energy Program."
Zedeck could not be reached for comment Thursday. The five-page lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, does not say how long Zedeck participated in the program or how much FPL should refund him. No other Sunshine Energy program members are identified because they "are so numerous and geographically diverse," according to the lawsuit.
An FPL spokesman, Randy Clerihue, said company officials had not been served with the lawsuit but FPL "will vigorously defend any such lawsuit." The company fulfilled its commitment to develop green energy, Clerihue said.
For years FPL marketed the Sunshine Energy Program as a way for customers to help develop solar projects in Florida. However, an audit by Florida's Public Service Commission found that the bulk of the $11.4 million raised between 2004 and 2007 was spent on "highly excessive" administrative and marketing costs. The PSC shut down the program in July.
Last month FPL sent letters to nearly 40,000 customers. The program was "one of the best-performing renewable energy programs in the nation" and prevented the release of about 500,000 tons of greenhouse gases, according to the company's website. Refunds would not be made because the program met its objectives, the website says.
Zedeck is represented by Maya Saxena, a Boca Raton attorney who has filed numerous class-action lawsuits, including a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise lines and numerous shareholders. Saxena did not return a phone call Thursday.