SOURCE: Orlando Sentinel
Central Florida’s largest power provider, Duke Energy, will raise bills next year for a period of 12 months to recoup $171 million in costs from the powerful hurricane that never hit Florida – Dorian – and $400,000 in bills from Tropical Storm Nestor.
Duke’s storm-cost increase in March will come on the heels of a January drop in rates that was announced earlier this year.
Today, Duke’s residential charge for 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity used in a month – which is approximately the average monthly usage and is an industry benchmark for comparisons – is $128.68. In January, the figure will drop to $123.99 and in March will rise to an estimated $129.33.
“We’ve seen an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events,” Duke Energy Florida’s president Catherine Stempien said in a statement. “We’re working hard to strengthen our electric grid while minimizing impacts to customer bills.”
Under Florida rules, utilities can move forward with hikes for storm costs but the amount will be reviewed and potentially adjusted by the Florida Public Service Commission.
Several other utilities in the region have opted not to raise rates for expenses from Dorian, which reached Category 5 strength and pummeled the Bahamas but ultimately steered clear of Florida’s Atlantic coast.
The bulk of storm costs for utilities was from assembling large crews, equipment and replacement parts.
The state’s largest electric utility, Florida Power & Light Co., announced this week it will not raise rates because of $270 million in Dorian expenses but instead will lower rates next year because of operational efficiencies.