JUNO BEACH — Three years ago, Florida Power & Light Co. asked for a $1.2 billion base rate increase, but the Florida Public Service Commission granted it just $75.5 million.
That approval of a mere 6 percent of what the company sought is far below the increases some utilities have received recently.
But a look at rate cases since 1960 shows that no Florida electric utility has ever been approved for the total amount requested.
Now Juno Beach-based FPL is asking the PSC to allow it a $690.4 million base rate increase that would take effect in 2013.
"Nobody has ever received the full amount. In 1974, Florida Power Corp., which is now Progress Energy, asked for $12.3 million and got $12.1 million. That is the closest I know of anybody ever getting," said Schef Wright, a Tallahassee attorney representing the Florida Retail Federation in the FPL case set to be heard beginning Aug. 20.
FPL officials concede that the state's electric utilities have always asked for more than they were granted in base rate cases.
"A rate proceeding is similar to a trial, with information and testimony provided under oath. Like any other legal proceeding, people can have differing views, which leads to different outcomes," said FPL spokesman Mark Bubriski.
"Through the rate-making process, we focus on clearly documenting what we believe are appropriate and necessary rates so that the Public Service Commission and intervenors can review in detail," Bubriski said.
Florida Public Counsel J.R. Kelly, who represents ratepayers in the case, said FPL's rates should be reduced by $253 million in 2013. In prefiled testimony, expert witnesses testify they are recommending the company's rate of return on equity — or profits — for 2013 be set at a 9 percent midpoint, rather than the 11.5 percent it is requesting.