Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Business

Florida Public Service Commission postpones vote on hiking Duke Energy bills

Duke Energy Florida customers won't see an increase in their bills just yet. The Florida Public Service Commission on Monday postponed Duke's proposal to increase costs to consumers.

A unanimous vote by the five commissioners pushed the issue to the PSC's annual fuel cost recovery hearing in the fall. The panel held off on a vote to get more information. Had the agency acted Monday, the hike would have gone into effect in July.

Under the proposal, for every 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity its customers use — a benchmark utilities use — a customer's bill would increase from $117.24 to $123.23.

The rate increase is meant to make up for Duke's underestimate of fuel prices for power plants, which left the company with a $182 million deficit.

"What we've seen is a decrease in our projected sales coupled with an increase in gas prices, and those are the two driving factors in the recovery," Matthew Bernier, lawyer for Duke, said at the meeting.

Despite the significant miscalculation, Duke may not be actively revisiting the formula that led them to such projections.

"I'm not aware of anything we can do to make it more accurate," Bernier said at the meeting. "If there is we're certainly willing to look into it and how to apply those lessons."

No Duke customers submitted comments for the proposal.

Ahead of the meeting, FPSC's staff recommendation was in favor of the proposal.

"Staff believes implementing the mid-course correction as proposed by DEF (Duke) is reasonable in this instance," the FPSC's recommendation said. "DEF's proposed methodology provides for a lower bill to customers in the near term compared to recovering the costs over a shorter period."

Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.

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