1. Business

Duke Energy Florida raising electric rates average of $5.99 monthly

Duke Energy Florida customers will see monthly bills rise about $6 on average under a mid-year residential rate increase that the North Carolina-based utility blames on rising prices for natural gas and coal. 
[Times file photo]
Published Apr. 14, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — Times have been good for Florida utility customers reaping the reward of falling fuel prices in recent years.

Times are changing. Duke Energy Florida customers will see monthly bills rise about $6 on average under a mid-year residential rate increase that the North Carolina-based utility blames on rising prices for natural gas and coal.

Duke Energy Florida said the increase it proposed Thursday — about $5.99 a month per 1,000 kilowatt hours — would bring the total 1,000-kwh cost to $123.23 monthly, or a 5 percent hike.

The rate increase must be approved by the Florida Public Service Commission at a meeting later this year. If the PSC approves the request as expected, the increase will begin with the July billing cycle, the company said.

Most of the increase is tied to what Duke is paying of natural gas and coal. But $1.14 per month of the bump is an adjustment in the charge customers must pay to finance the closure of the Crystal River nuclear power facility in Citrus County. The increase is due to fluctuations in bond sales, Duke said.

Duke "works to actively manage its fuel contracts and keep costs as low as possible for customers," the company said in a news release. "Fuel costs for 2016 and 2017 were higher than projected. Rather than continuing to under-collect for the remainder of 2017 and accumulate a larger true-up in 2018, the company is providing customers with a timely and more immediate rate correction."

The company noted it makes no extra profit from the increase.

Duke announced the closing of the Crystal River nuclear plant in February 2013. That decision came after a botched upgrade and maintenance project by Duke's predecessor, Progress Energy, cracked the reactor's 42-inch-thick concrete containment building. Attempts to repair the building and bring it back online led to more cracks.

Duke, which bought Progress in 2012, initially considered repairing the plant, but ultimately decided that would be too expensive.

All Florida electric customers have enjoyed several years of low fuel prices, mostly natural gas, but prices have climbed in recent months. Nonetheless, the federal government expects natural gas prices to remain fairly stable over the next 20 years with an ample supply of domestic gas.

Tampa Electric, a subsidiary of the Canadian energy conglomerate Emera, is not seeking a rate increase, according to its spokeswoman, Cherie Jacobs.

Duke, which has 1.8 million customers in Pinellas and west-central Florida, said commercial and industrial customers also will see an increase from 5 to 9 percent.

Contact William R. Levesque at Follow @Times_Levesque.


  1. Traffic improvements near the Walmart store in Hudson include replacing this one-lane exit on the store's south side with a roundabout so motorists can travel in either direction on Beacon Woods Drive. JOSH SOLOMON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A roundabout, rebuilt street, new driveways and a traffic light are planned for the area around a busy Walmart store.
  2. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  3. Snack-focused delivery app GoPuff launched in Tampa in February. It serves the area surrounding the University of South Florida. GoPuff
    Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or Funyuns? GoPuff says it has the data for which snack Floridians love the most.
  4. "House Hunters," shot at a home in the Bayshore Beautiful area.  (Times | 2007) Tampa Tribune
    Whang, 57, was also a comedian and actress.
  5. The city is accepting applications for its Commercial Revitalization Program. The city has allocated $175,000 for the program this year.
  6. The Walmart supercenter at 990 Missouri Ave. faced fines in December for these storage containers in the parking lot. City officials are debating whether to make a short-term arrangement with the city two’s Largo stores this year so they can store their holiday inventory. City of Largo
    In the end, city commissioners say yes, with some reservations.
  7. More construction is on the way to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, thanks to $19.75 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants to rehabilitate the airport’s runway. (Times file photo)
    The work is expected to be complete by spring 2021.
  8. Job applicants seek information about temporary positions available with the 2020 Census, during a job fair in Miami on Wednesday designed for people fifty years or older. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    The state added 22,500 jobs in August.
  9. Homeowner Cheryl Murdoch, 59, explains the workings of the Philips Smart Mirror in her bathroom. Murdoch and her husband live in the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon, where some residents are piloting new health technologies inside their homes. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    In Pasco’s Crystal Lagoon community, AdventHealth and Metro Development Group are testing in-home technology aimed at keeping people away from the hospital.
  10. A company called Flock Safety is selling automatic license plate readers to neighborhood associations to cut down on crime, and Tampa neighborhood Paddock Oaks is one of their customers. Pictured is a Flock camera on Paddock Oaks Dr. | [Luis Santana | Times] LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Atlanta-based Flock Safety has provided 14 area communities with high-speed, high-definition cameras for surveillance.