Reduced FP&L Rate Hike Still Sparks Opposition | Florida


(The Center Square) – The Florida Power & Light Company (FP&L) ‘s proposed four-year rate hike of $ 1.53 billion is justified by the “superior performance” it offers, the largest said Monday public service from Sunshine State to state regulators.

But a multitude of opposition groups say the opposite. Representatives of Floridians Against Raised Tariffs (FAIR), the League of United Latin American Citizens of Florida, the Southwest Florida Environmental Confederation and Florida Rising say that as part of the deal, residential customers and small businesses “will subsidize the tariffs of large commercial and industrial enterprises.” customers.”

Opponents want the Florida Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to reject a proposed regulation allowing a base rate hike of $ 692 million in January, an increase of $ 560 million in January 2023 and another increase of $ 428 million. additional base rate dollars in 2024 and 2025 payable for solar projects.

Under the proposal, the base rate for a typical FP&L monthly residential bill for a customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity would be $ 13.64 over four years.

FP&L is the state’s largest electric utility with 5.6 million accounts serving over 11 million Floridians.

The PUC heard testimony on Monday in what could be a three-day hearing on the plan proposed by FP&L. The parties have until the end of September to file briefs. The PUC must take a decision before October 26.

FP&L initially proposed a rate hike that would cost its 5.6 million account holders up to $ 6.5 billion in increased utility bills over four years – the largest in Florida history .

The proposal has met opposition from AARP, Florida Industrial Power Users Group (FlPUG), Florida Retail Federation (FRF), Earthjustice, Southwest Florida Environmental Confederation, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the Florida Consumer Action Network and Vote Solar.

In August, FP&L negotiated an agreement with the state’s public council office, which represents consumers, which was subsequently approved by the FRF, FlPUG and SACE.

The deal before the PUC expands solar power development, pulls a coal-fired power station out of Georgia, and continues FP&L’s merger with Gulf Power.

FP&L vice president of finance Robert Barrett told the PUC that the rate hike was justified by the “superior performance” provided to consumers.

Barrett said that the acquisition of Gulf Energy by FP&L “demonstrated a significant improvement in operations and costs, demonstrating this superior performance in terms of culture and financial strength. (FP&L) has shown that, for all the metrics that matter most to customers, we are the best performers and have been for many years. “

Opponents “choose to argue… that superior performance is to be expected because of our obligation to serve. This is patently absurd, otherwise all the other companies that do not meet our level of performance are failing in their fundamental obligation to their customers, ”he continued, stating that the approval“ would send a strong message to other companies. that superior performance will be rewarded ”.

Florida Rising representative Bradley Marshall said opponents are not just opposing rate hikes, but pushing for “fairness and fairness and a just transition” to clean, renewable energy.

“In total, for the four-year term of the settlement, residential and small business customers will subsidize the rates of large commercial and industrial customers in excess of $ 1 billion,” he said. “That’s a lot of money. It’s hundreds of dollars per residential customer that they shouldn’t be paying to subsidize the rates of a few large companies.

FAIR attorney Robert Wright said that in 2012 FP&L requested a base rate hike of $ 528 million but settled for $ 350 million. In 2016, he said, FP&L requested a $ 1.3 billion three-year base rate hike and PUC granted it $ 811 million.

This hike is inappropriate, Wright said, adding, “FP&L has asked you to approve the largest rate increases in the history of utility regulation in Florida” in the event of a pandemic.

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