State approves Duke Energy Florida savings under 2017 tax act

Customers still won't have to pay for Hurricane Irma recovery costs thanks to the savings.
Duke Energy Florida’s savings under the 2017 tax law were approved Tuesday by state regulators. The utility will use it to cover recovery costs from Hurricane Irma. Pictured are Duke linemen cutting trees following Hurricane Irma. [CHRIS URSO  |   Times, 2017]
Duke Energy Florida’s savings under the 2017 tax law were approved Tuesday by state regulators. The utility will use it to cover recovery costs from Hurricane Irma. Pictured are Duke linemen cutting trees following Hurricane Irma. [CHRIS URSO | Times, 2017]
Published January 8

Duke Energy Florida could have tacked a $5.20 monthly charge onto customers’ electric bills to pay the costs of recovery from Hurricane Irma, which strafed the state in 2017.

Instead, state regulators gave Duke the go-ahead to use $150.9 million it saved under the federal tax overhaul of 2017 to cover the would-be recovery cost.

“In this case, we are providing Duke customers with a one-time rate reduction that offsets what could have been a rate increase,” said Art Graham, chairman of the Florida Public Service Commission, in a release Tuesday.

The Public Service Commission regulates utilities in the state and approve on costs passed through to customers.

The ruling builds on what regulators approved in November 2018, the charge for recovery costs from Irma.

Duke had pledged to use its tax savings to wipe that off of customers' future bills, which the Public Service Commission also approved in November. But the exact dollar amounts weren’t known yet.

There is just one more piece of the bureaucratic puzzle left on the issue — a May hearing to finalize the storm recovery cost for Hurricane Irma. But either way, Duke spokeswoman Ana Gibbs said, Duke customers won't see an increase in their bills.

Duke, as well as Tampa Electric Co., has yet to file for storm recovery costs for Hurricane Michael, the Category 4 storm that slammed the Panhandle in October 2018. Duke expects to file those storm recovery costs sometime in the first quarter of this year.

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

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