Florida utilities ask state for rate hikes in 2014

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Florida utility customers can expect their electric bills to go up in 2014, according to Ivan Penn of the Tampa Bay Times.

On Friday, Florida Power & Light (FPL), Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. each filed proposals with the Public Service Commission for permission to recoup fuel costs for providing energy to residents. Tampa Electric is also asking to change the base energy price they charge customers.

FPL is looking to add about $5 to customer’s average monthly bills, bringing it to $100 for those who use 1,000-kilowatt hours of energy.

Duke is asking to raise their rates about $8.24 a month, for an average bill of $124.30 for 1,000-kilowatt hours. Part of that hike will include an 89-cent monthly fee to cover costs of the failed Crystal River nuclear power plant, closed since February.  

The Duke proposal represents a significant difference from 2012 rates, when the average monthly bill dropped from $123.19 to the current $116.06, due to a refund of payments for damages at the Crystal River plant.

Tampa Electric users can look forward to paying an extra $1.27 a month in 2014, as well as other increases. The utility is asking the PSC to let them to charge $114.26 for every 1,000-kilowatt hours used.  

The three utilities blame rising fuel costs, weather and commodity prices for the jump. Fuel costs and base rates make up the two largest utility bill expenses. By law, utilities cannot profit from the cost of fuel used to produce electricity to customers, but they can recoup the extra amount.

The PSC will consider the Tampa Electric base rate increase by the beginning of September, as well as all three utilities’ proposed fuel cost increases by November. 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.