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Tampa Bay utilities ask regulators to decrease customer bills for 2020

Compared on cost against Florida’s other investor-owned utilities, Duke Energy Florida bills would rank No. 3 and Tampa Electric Co. would rank No. 4.
Tampa Bay utilities asked state regulators this week to decrease their residential customers’ monthly bills for next year, citing a lower cost for natural gas. Pictured is the Tampa Electric Co. headquarters in Tampa in 2017. | [Chris Urso | Times (2017)]
Tampa Bay utilities asked state regulators this week to decrease their residential customers’ monthly bills for next year, citing a lower cost for natural gas. Pictured is the Tampa Electric Co. headquarters in Tampa in 2017. | [Chris Urso | Times (2017)] [ URSO, CHRIS | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Sep. 5, 2019

TALLAHASSEE — Tampa Bay utilities asked state regulators this week to decrease their residential customers’ monthly bills for next year, citing a lower cost for natural gas.

If approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, the decreases would rank Duke Energy Florida bills No. 3 in terms of cost among Florida’s five investor-owned utilities, while Tampa Electric Co. would rank No. 4.

Duke Energy requested that its residential bills be reduced by nearly 4 percent to $123.99 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, the average electric use in a household each month. Among the factors contributing to the figure are lower fuel costs, two solar projects and lower costs from energy it buys from other utilities.

“Duke Energy Florida works to actively manage its fuel contracts and keep costs as low as possible for customers,” spokeswoman Ana Gibbs said in a statement.

Tampa Electric, meanwhile, requested a 1 percent decrease on its residential bills to $102.52 per 1,000 kilowatt hours. It, too, cited a lower cost for natural gas, as well as having “more solar energy on our system.”

“We work hard to operate efficiently and use a diverse fuel mix to help us maintain some of the lowest rates in Florida,” said CEO Nancy Tower in a release. “We are happy we can pass these savings on to our customers.”

Its residential customers will also see a decrease of about $9 from their current rate in January thanks to a one-time credit from savings incurred after the 2017 federal tax reform.

Under the proposed rates, Gulf Power Co. , which serves part of the Panhandle, would have the highest bills in the state at $140.55 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, after the only requested increase among the state’s five public utilities. Florida Power & Light, the largest public utility in the state serving much of south Florida, would have the lowest rates at $96.33 per 1,000 kilowatt hours.

Even if approved, the lower rates aren’t set in stone. Should the price of fuel go up at any point during the year, utilities are allowed to ask the Public Service Commission to raise customer bills to cover the new higher cost, as with the raise Tampa Electric asked for earlier this year.

The commission will vote on the proposed rates Nov. 5.

Public utilityProposed rate*Current rate*Percent change
Gulf Power Co.$140.55$137.07+ 2.5 percent
Florida Public Utilities Co.$131.46$136.63- 3.78 percent
Duke Energy Florida$123.99$128.68- 3.64 percent
Tampa Electric Co.$102.52$103.58- 1.02 percent
Florida Power & Light$96.33$99.90- 3.57 percent

*Rates are per 1,000 kilowatt hours, the average monthly energy use for a household.

Source: Florida Public Service Commission.

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