FPL to propose monthly Irma surcharge to cover $1.3 billion costs

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Florida Power and Light proposed a monthly surcharge Thursday to help recover $1.3 billion in costs from Hurricane Irma.

The company plans to begin recovering Irma costs in March 2018, following the expiration of the Hurricane Matthew surcharge.

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FPL customers would continue paying the surcharge through 2020 if the plan is approved by the Florida Public Service Commission.

Surcharges would start at around $4 per month and increase to about $5.50 by 2019 for the average customer, the company said in a statement.

The company’s storm reserve fund was fully depleted by Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew in 2016.

“We all have to do a fair share, it was a disaster all over Southwest Florida. I think if it’s $5 we have to pay for three years that’s fine,” Bonita Springs resident Robert Bourassa said.

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Other Southwest Florida residents still recovering from the storm don’t believe the charge is fair.

“My first thought is we’re not for it. Number one, we’re on fixed income and we just can’t afford it,” Bonita Springs resident Yvonne Baremore said.

Florida Power & Light Company spokesperson David McDermitt released the following statement Thursday:

Hurricane Irma was the most devastating and costliest storm in Florida history. Although our final analysis to determine total hurricane restoration costs will take several months to complete, the preliminary estimated cost that FPL will seek to recover is approximately $1.3 billion. FPL’s storm reserve fund was fully depleted by Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew last year, and as with most states across the U.S., the costs of responding to major natural disasters are not covered by the regular rates paid by electric customers in Florida.

We understand that no one wants to pay more for energy or any other service, and we plan to request permission from the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to recover Hurricane Irma recovery costs over the next few years to keep the impact on electric rates more manageable for FPL customers.

Under FPL’s current rate agreement, approved by the PSC in 2016, recovery of major storm restoration costs may begin 60 days after we file a petition with the Commission. Initial costs can be recovered over 12 months if they do not exceed $4 per 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) on a residential customer’s monthly bill. Any additional costs may be recovered in subsequent years, as determined by the PSC.

FPL customer bills currently include a surcharge of $3.36 per 1,000 kWh to pay primarily for Hurricane Matthew restoration costs. This 12-month surcharge took effect in March 2017 and will expire at the end of February 2018.

We plan to request to begin recovering Hurricane Irma costs in March 2018 for a surcharge of $4 per 1,000 kWh. Because this will follow the expiration of the Hurricane Matthew surcharge, the net difference on a typical residential customer bill will be about 64 cents, or less than 1 percent of the total bill. Combined with other rate changes proposed to take effect in March 2018, the total net increase on a typical residential bill is estimated to be $1.07 per month. Even with this change, FPL’s typical customer bills are expected to remain about 25 percent lower than the national average.

FPL will work with the Public Service Commission, Office of Public Counsel and other stakeholders to finalize the timing and duration of the Hurricane Irma recovery surcharge program beyond the initial 12-month period ending in February 2019. Based on our preliminary projections and subject to a thorough review and analysis by the PSC, we currently project the monthly Hurricane Irma cost recovery surcharge to increase by roughly an additional $1.50 per month – to approximately $5.50 total – in 2019. The surcharge would remain in effect until Hurricane Irma recovery costs are fully recovered, which is expected by the end of 2020.

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