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Duke Energy asks to use tax savings to cover Hurricane Michael, too

Duke Energy Florida is seeking to use its savings under the 2017 federal tax reform to pay for yet another storm — Hurricane Michael.

In a filing late Tuesday, the utility sought permission from the Florida Public Service Commission to cover $221 million in damages from the Category 5 hurricane last fall with its tax savings instead of charging customers for that amount.

Duke already committed to a settlement with the Office of Public Counsel and other consumer watchdog groups to use a portion of its tax savings to pay for damages from hurricanes Irma and Nate and replenish its hurricane reserves. With Hurricane Michael expenses, that will total $705 million.

While the savings could have been passed back to customers, Duke is allowed to charge customers for recovery efforts. This arrangement prevents significant swings in bills.

"Duke is taking the interest of its customers into consideration, and we're taking the interest of our clients into consideration," said Charles Rehwinkel, lawyer at the Office of Public Counsel. "I think it's a happy medium and it works out best for everyone."

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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