Duke Energy Florida received regulatory approval this week to lower its bills in 2021.
Beginning next year, residential customers’ monthly bills will average $126.63 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, a $3.63 drop from its current rate.
“We’re always looking for ways to help reduce costs for customers and we know right now is a very challenging time,” spokeswoman Ana Gibbs said. “If for any reason our customers have any billing concerns please contact us for billing assistance and payment options.”
Its bills were adjusted as part of an annual process and are based largely on the cost of fuel. The utility texted its customers on Thursday to inform them of the rate reduction.
Just over 30 cents of the average monthly bill will go toward its storm protection plan, a new initiative all the state’s investor-owned power companies are undertaking at the behest of the Florida Legislature to harden the electrical grid against storms.
Some of the savings will be offset. Because the utility has two solar plants coming online in the first part of the year, Duke Energy customers will see a slight bill increase during that time of less than 50 cents. The solar projects are part of the company’s push toward expanding its solar capacity. It is currently wrapping up building 700 megawatts of solar energy, which it was approved for in 2017.
The company asked regulators this summer for permission to add another 750 megawatts of solar power. That’s through a program that would allow customers to purchase blocks of solar power that would eventually offset a portion of their bills. The proposal has received sharp criticism from environmental and consumer advocates, which say the program favors corporations.
Tampa Electric’s rates were approved last month and will be rising in 2021. Its residential customers will pay an average monthly bill of $105.25 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, up 8 percent from the current rate. Tampa Electric said the main driver is a rising cost for natural gas.