lisa_edgar.jpgTALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Gov. Rick Scott reappointed Lisa Edgar on Friday to a third four-year term on the Florida Public Service Commission.

The Republican governor rejected a candidate with tea party backing in announcing his decision just two days before a deadline set by law.

The five-member commission regulates investor-owned electric, natural gas and water utilities.

The 49-year-old Edgar, originally appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush and then reappointed by Gov. Charlie Crist, is the longest serving member of the panel, which otherwise has had a rapid turnover in recent years. Her new term begins in January.

Critics, including a Gainesville-based tea party group and state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, have accused her of being too cozy with the utilities she regulates.

Scott, though, praised her experience.

“Lisa has demonstrated the ability to review complex issues and show fairness in considering those issues,'' Scott said in a statement.

He selected Edgar from among four candidates submitted by the PSC Nominating Council including former state Rep. Ken Littlefield, a Wesley Chapel Republican, who had tea party support.

The other two nominees were Aventura City Commissioner Luz Weinberg and Donald Polmann, engineering and science director for Tampa Bay Water, a regional public utility.

The appointment is subject to Florida Senate confirmation, but Edgar can serve until then.

Edgar is the lone holdover since the panel unanimously rejected large rate increases sought by the state's two biggest electric companies, Florida Power & Light Co. and Progress Energy Florida, in 2010.

Within months, the Florida Senate refused to confirm two of the commissioners and the nominating council, which is appointed by legislative leaders, declined to interview the other two for reappointment.

The ousted commissioners and Crist said it was retaliation by the Republican-led Legislature for rejecting the rate increases, which Crist had opposed.

Opponents argued the ousted commissioners were not qualified and complained the panel lacked diversity because it then had no black or Hispanic members. The former commissioners were replaced by two black members, one Hispanic member and a white female. The panel now has no white males.

Bush had named Littlefield, who works for a funeral home, to the commission shortly before he left the governorship in 2006, but his successor, Crist, withdrew that and other Bush appointments.

Edgar has a law degree from Florida State University. She previously worked in state government as deputy secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, chief policy analyst for the governor's Office of Policy and Budget, senior Cabinet aide for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and staff counsel for the Senate.