Your power company could be charging you for projects with no details

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:

With Governor Ron DeSantis’ support — the state gave power companies the legal right to charge customers for what they call storm hardening projects. For example, burying power lines, so when hurricanes strike — the lights stay on. Late Tuesday afternoon, state regulators rubber-stamped a rule for Florida power companies to improve infrastructure.

But, Charles Rehwinkel, the attorney for the Office of Public Counsel, said the customers’ interest could not be protected in this rule because companies were not required to give enough information.

Rehwinkel, said without specifics, power companies could include undefined projects into “storm hardening.” Not just under-grounding power lines.

In a Public Service Commission hearing, Rehwinkel said they found FPL documents showing your bills might soar with the new rule.

Rehwinkel said the documents showed FPL may do this in a way that raises rates and increases project costs.

The problem, several attorneys said, is how to determine what costs are justified.

Attorneys argued the rule sets power companies up to charge customers twice, even if on accident.

The solution: get specific. The Office of Public Counsel requested the rule requiring companies to hand over more information about what you’re paying for.

They say it could save customers hundreds of millions. But FPL says that would cause confusion.

They say they have not provided project-level information because it will change and longer range projections will change.

But the Commission said there would be no change to the rule. Soon, it’s your power bill that could be changing.

In the third quarter of this year, FPL posted $683 million in earnings.

In addition to storm hardening costs, FPL is still considering whether to ask the Public Service Commission for permission to pass along $274 million in costs due to Hurricane Dorian, a storm that did not hit Florida.

An FPL spokesperson sent us this response:

We believe the Florida Public Service Commission’s proposed rules on hardening and undergrounding the energy grid will properly implement the law that received overwhelming bi-partisan support. Two lengthy workshops provided all interested parties, including the Office of Public Counsel, with an opportunity to voice their input into the commission’s proposed rules. It is time to move forward with this initiative that will enhance the reliability of service to our current and future customers in a prudent, forward-thinking and cost-effective manner.

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