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TECO customers won't pay for hurricane recovery costs

Tampa Electric wants to use its tax savings to pay for hurricane-related costs last year, instead of passing that on to customers. Shown here is debris left behind by Hurricane Irma last year in a neighborhood called "The Avenues" in Big Pine Key. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times  file, 2017]
Tampa Electric wants to use its tax savings to pay for hurricane-related costs last year, instead of passing that on to customers. Shown here is debris left behind by Hurricane Irma last year in a neighborhood called "The Avenues" in Big Pine Key. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times file, 2017]
Published Aug. 20, 2018

It's official — Tampa Electric Co. customers won't be paying for hurricane recovery costs. State regulators on Monday unanimously approved the utility's request to use savings under the new federal tax law to cover hurricane-related costs.

"The ratepayers deserve to get these tax dollars back, and that's what's happening today," Jon Moyle Jr., a lawyer representing the Florida Power Industrial Users Group, said at the Monday hearing. FIPUG advocates on behalf of consumers.

Under the agreement, Tampa Electric customers will not have to pay the $102.5 million that would have gone toward Hurricane Irma recovery efforts and replenishing the utility's hurricane reserves.

That means customer bills will be lower by about $6.50 per month on average effective Jan 1, 2019.

And there could be further savings ahead. Depending on how the Internal Revenue Service classifies the money ratepayers pay toward power plant dismantling, Tampa Electric customers could see another rate reduction. Tampa Electric is currently seeking clarification.

The IRS is expected to take between six months and a year to respond. It's unclear just how much customers would save because of this.

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

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