Make us your home page

Regulators cap Progress Energy revenue, ensuring only small rate increase

Progress Energy customers won't see any significant differences in the amount they pay on their utility bills — at least over the next year.

Lower fuel costs and a decision by the state Public Service Commission on Monday will help keep the total cost of customers' energy usage about the same as a year ago.

But if fuel costs increase, as is expected over the next year, customers could see substantially higher bills in 2011.

Commissioners voted Monday to limit Progress Energy's return to 10.5 percent, which is about 2 percentage points lower than the utility had sought.

Progress' request would have meant the company could have generated as much as $499 million in additional revenue, but the utility now could realize a more modest amount of less than $141 million.

The commission returns Jan. 28 to set the energy rate Progress can charge, though the more modest revenue return laid out on Monday means any increase will be small. A small increase will be offset by the lower fuel costs, keeping consumers bills about the same.

Consumer advocates had called for a decrease in energy costs to consumers. They say the PSC decision gives the utility enormous financial returns at a time when the economy remains sour and hurts consumers in the long run.

"These guys can get 10.5 percent guaranteed, no risk. Man. How do you justify that?" asked Bill Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network. "That is basically doing nothing for consumers."

Commissioners grappled through the morning and early afternoon with a result they hoped would produce a "win-win" for consumers and the utility.

"The consumers are interested in not having a rate increase," said Commissioner Nathan A. Skop.

But the consumer concern stood in contrast with another reality: "The lower the reward in this case, the sooner the company is going to come back, again," said Andrew Maurey, a member of the commission's staff.

The PSC staff recommended Progress receive a revenue increase of $180 million, which was reduced by commissioners. J.R. Kelly, the state public counsel, said he was glad commissioners at least acted to save customers some money.

"We are certainly thrilled," he said.

Progress Energy Florida serves more than 1.6 million customers in Central and North Florida.

Monday's decision set only the boundaries for the utility's profit. Commissioners are scheduled to vote again on any increases in the rate.

The energy fee on consumers' bills is made up largely of the so-called base rate. The base rate is money utilities charge consumers for the cost of delivering electricity. That money is used for such costs as maintenance of plants, power lines and poles as well as employees salaries.

Utility bills also include a fuel charge that does not benefit the utility companies but rather is a direct cost they pay for the fuel needed to produce electricity. That cost fluctuates based on the market.

Newton, of the consumer action network, said there remains one step consumers still can take to lower their energy costs.

"Use as little energy as you can," he said.

Ivan Penn can be reached at or (727) 892-2332. Follow him on Twitter at and become a fan of Consumer's Edge on Facebook.

Regulators cap Progress Energy revenue, ensuring only small rate increase 01/11/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 11, 2010 11:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks


    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday


    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at DOT's Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Ave. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Times]