Local Plumbers Clash with Pensacola Energy

An Escambia County plumber is putting his foot down.  He claims the city of Pensacola’s gas company is unfairly cornering the market with their own in-home installation team.  Larry Downs Jr. owns his own plumbing company and has done hours of research into what he’s calling government corruption.  Some of that research even yielded papers Downs says shows Pensacola Energy providing free services to certain customers.  Don Suarez, Director of Pensacola Energy , says he’s just trying to provide a better service to his customers.

Larry Downs Jr. is researching.  He’s paid hundreds of dollars for public records from Pensacola Energy but says what he’s found is priceless.

“$327,000 in water heaters that they gave away, with no tax,” Downs said.

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He claims Pensacola Energy is unfairly working with some businesses, and will soon attempt to completely corner the whole market.  He argues you can’t compete with an entity that does not have to pay taxes on their purchases.

“We can’t compete with our government, it’s just not possible,” Downs said.  “We could compete with them if they weren’t taking our money.  But they’re taking our money and competing with us.  And they’re picking winners and losers.”

Director of Pensacola Energy Don Suarez says the new services are simply meeting a need.

“We’re adding a two man crew to rapidly respond to customer needs that may not be able to be met by our plumbing partnership,” Suarez said.  “So it’s just an extension of our service to provide even better service than we’re currently providing.”

Pensacola Energy has stressed this will only be a two man crew.  plumber2

“There’s no intention to expand it beyond that in the near future,” Suarez said.  But in a memorandum Downs found, Suarez writes, “One this fiscal year, with more added as needed.”

When pressed about this, Suarez discussed a previous shortage of plumbers after hurricane Ivan and why Pensacola Energy had crews in the past.

“Things change all the time in the marketplace,” he said.

Then, when asked about the invoices that said, ‘File Only.  Do Not Bill.’ Suarez responded that he needed to look over them, and investigate before speaking about them.

Downs is prepared to present his findings to the Pensacola City Council on Thursday at their meeting.  He plans on having a group of plumbers there with him.

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