Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried continues fight over FL Office of Energy

Nikki Fried, Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, trumpeted energy grants issued by her Office of Energy in Oakland Park. Credit: Fried's press office

Nikki Fried, Florida’s only statewide-elected Democratic Cabinet member, is continuing her campaign to retain control of the Florida Office of Energy, even though legislation to wrest the agency from her grasp has already passed the Florida House.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Fried held a news conference in Oakland Park in Broward County to highlight $150,000 in energy efficiency grants to Florida’s smaller cities and counties.

“Let me be clear: There is absolutely no good reason to do this,” Fried said of the legislative maneuvers. “No policy reason, no cost savings, and no energy efficiency gains. Even the Palm Beach Post agree that this is just a partisan grab.”

The Post was among a number of newspapers that editorialized against the move.

The legislation at issue (PCB ANR 20-01) would shift the energy office to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which would give Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his GOP allies on the state Cabinet more control over the agency.

Fried has clashed repeatedly with the Republicans on the Cabinet, which oversees much of the state’s bureaucracy, over hiring of agency executives and clemency policy.

Notwithstanding the odds, “we’re fighting it,” Fried said. “We’re doing our part, we’re doing our work in the Office of Energy snd we’ll continue moving forward in making sure that the Office of Energy stays in the Department of Agriculture, where it has been efficient in saving people money and time and of course the environment.”

Senate leaders – including President Bill Galvano and Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, both Republicans – have been cool to the switch but that doesn’t mean they won’t go along in the end.

Fried picked up an endorsement of her continued control from Oakland Park Mayor Matthew Sparks.

“I speak for myself as a mayor, as well as other mayors who have gotten behind Commissioner Nikki Fried, to keep the Office of Energy under her control,” Sparks said. “We feel strongly about it, and as she said, there is no good reason to remove this office from her control.”