Floridians’ Electric Bills Could Rise in January and April 2023 - Part 2

Floridians’ Electric Bills Could Rise in January and April 2023

If Florida's Public Service Commission approves the requests from FPL, Duke, TECO, and FPUC, get ready for your electric bill to go up in January and then again in April

With rising housing prices, property insurance rates, and everyday goods, everyday working Floridians are experiencing a squeeze. And Floridians could start paying more for electricity starting in January, if the Florida Public Service Commission approves the requests from the four investor-owned electric utilities. That’s on top of some of the largest electric rate hikes in Florida history, just approved last year.

The Florida Public Service Commission is the regulatory body whose job it is to regulate electric companies. Floridians’ electric bills will not increase unless these five commissioners approve it. 

From Left to Right: Commissioner La Rosa, Commissioner Graham, Chairman Fay, Commissioner Passidomo, Commissioner Clark.

That is exactly what they are being asked to do by FPL, Duke, TECO, and FPUC. Among them, these are the four largest electric companies in Florida, and their service territory encompasses the vast majority of Florida electricity customers.

The first increase in your bill would come in January, and the second one could come in April.

On Thursday and Friday of last week, representatives from FPL, Duke, TECO and FPUC made the case that partly due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the price of natural gas has spiked, and the natural gas market is volatile. This, according to the companies, is why the PSC should approve a rate hike for customers in the new year. By law, electric utilities are allowed to pass on increased fuel costs to customers. 

According to the filings from the electric utilities, a Florida customer who uses approximately 1,000 Kilowatt Hours of electricity could pay anywhere from $3 to $16 more per month, starting in January. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average home’s monthly electric bill in Florida is a little more than $125, which is about 13% higher than the national average.

However, that’s just the beginning. Starting in April, the utilities may start charging more. And this is for something called “unrecovered fuel costs.” WFLA’s Mahsa Saeidi explains:

The Office of Public Counsel, the office inside the Public Service Commission charged with advocating for consumers, argued that this second charge was unprecedented.

Charles Rehwinkel of the Office of Public Counsel told the Public Service Commission during the opening of a hearing on Thursday that utilities had created a “Wild West” atmosphere by delaying their 2022 fuel cost requests that he said were supposed to be among the issues considered at the hearing

Rehwinkel said utilities had been directed by the commission to submit their requests in September for 2022 fuel costs. But instead, Duke Energy and TECO — following FPL’s lead in July — told the PSC in September they will wait until later to make their requests. A lawyer for FPL, Maria Moncada said that FPL will submit its request in January after it has had time to analyze natural gas costs. 

The Office of Public Counsel asked that the PSC reject this plan to delay the fuel cost request until January, but the PSC voted to reject that request.

The Public Service Commission will meet again on December 6, where they will hear closing arguments from the utilities, and take a recommendation from staff and make a final decision on their requests at that time.

Because of this unprecedented situation where the electric utilities have delayed requesting their true fuel cost requests, it is impossible to say how much more customers will end up paying on top of the likely increases coming in January. 

It’s impossible to say over what period of time they will ask to recover these costs. Will it be over one year? Over two years? Will they also ask to recover interest over this time period? All of this is still unknown.

If you’d like to send an email to the Public Service Commission (and to the governor, who appoints PSC commissioners), use our tool below.

Watch The Public Service Commission Hearings Here:

Hearing: 20220001/02/03/04/07/10-EI – (Day 1)

Hearing: 20220001/02/03/04/07/10-EI – (Day 2)

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