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Utility regulators deal blow to FPL

by Dara Kam | November 3rd, 2009

The Florida Public Service Commission created what could be yet another public relations nightmare for the state’s largest utility yesterday.

Utility regulators ordered Florida Power & Light Co. to refund $364.8 million in fuel surcharges in a one-time payment to customers because of a drop in fuel prices.

The refunds are normally spread out over one year.

But Commissioner Nathan Skop wanted customers to get the one-time break.

As a result, FPL customers’ January bills will be about $44 cheaper as a result of yesterday’s decision.

But the next month the bills will go back up, leading to instability for customers, FPL argues.

They want customers’ bills to be consistent from month to month so residents and businesses can plan for their utility expenses.

The power company also likely wants to avoid the fallout from the sticker-shock of a bill going up $44 from one month to the next.

“While today’s action was outside the normal process for dealing with these variations, we’re happy to be able to help customers, particularly in these difficult times. Moreover, 2010 bills will be going down as a result of greater fuel efficiencies and lower fuel costs even with the full impact of our rate request. That’s good news for customers since it combines lower bills with greater investment in making the electrical infrastructure stronger, smarter, cleaner and even more fuel efficient,” FPL said in a statement yesterday.

The Juno Beach-based utility backed off of $53 million in charges from the proposed base rate increase, scrubbing $16 million it had wanted to charge customers for corporate jet travel and to buy a new plane. FPL also cut in half the amount of executive pay and bonuses it was asking customers to pay. Customers would now pay only $37 million of the execs extras under the proposal.

Last week, the panel voted to delay the rate case until next year when Gov. Charlie Crist’s new appointees will be on board.

FPL wanted to move forward with the case in part because of customers’ bills.

Because of the reduction in fuel charges, the bills will go down in January. FPL had wanted the base rate increase, about $9 a month for 1,000 kwh, to go into effect at the same time so the base rate hike would be “offset” by the reduction in fuel costs.

That won’t happen.

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6 Responses to “Utility regulators deal blow to FPL”

  1. Tampa Ray Says:

    I read a media report that claimed Mr. Butterworth was being paid $500/hour.

  2. informed customer Says:

    i dont know if i would call that being dealt a blow, but customers probably will freak out when their bill goes down and up again. the average everyday customer isn’t going to take time to understand the situation.

  3. Bob Says:

    Butterworth was the right thing to do in this situation. He will help clean up the PSC and get FPL to mend its ways. I think this fee reduction was expected but it’s still another good step for customers.

  4. Frustrated Rate Payer Says:

    The Shenanigans that have gone on at the FPSC is completely unbelieveable! There is no way that FPL can get a fair rate case (or anything else for that matter!) at this point. It has turned into nothing less than a “witch hunt.” The reason: Charlie Crist has bullied the FPSC to vote “his way or the highway,” all due to the fact that he is running for the Senate. As a rate payor, I believe that the craziness that has gone on at the FPSC in the last several months is ridiculous, and it will only serve to harm the customers in the end. Shame on you FPSC!!!!

  5. mark white Says:

    FPL, WHAT ABOUT PGN???

  6. Don't speak for me FPL! Says:

    Thanks FPL for voicing your opinion on what I want….Since you don’t have a CLUE as to what I want, I will tell you….I want the money you over-charged me back immediately in a lump sum payment….Furthermore, I want the PSC to DENY your outrageous rate increase request…Are we clear now?

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