Lower Fuel Costs to Reduce FPL Bills

TALLAHASSEE — Pointing to lower-than-expected costs of natural gas, Florida Power & Light on Wednesday asked state regulators to approve a proposal that would reduce customer bills in May.

If approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, the reduction would come after FPL customers also will see bills trimmed in April because of the end of charges stemming from storm-related costs.

FPL and other utilities rely heavily on natural gas to fuel power plants, and gas prices have been volatile in recent years. When gas prices surge, increased costs are passed along to customers; when prices drop, customers get a break in their bills.

The Public Service Commission each fall approves projected fuel costs for the upcoming year. But if the actual costs turn out to differ greatly from the projections, utilities can seek what is known as a “mid-course correction” — the type of proposal that FPL filed Wednesday.

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The proposal would save customers about $662 million, with a small portion of that, $37 million, related to resolving fuel costs from 2023, the filing said. FPL asked the commission to take up the proposal during an April 2 meeting.

The end of the storm-related charges, which will reduce bills in April, had been planned earlier.

“We are committed to providing reliable energy and keeping customer bills as low as possible,” FPL President and CEO Armando Pimentel said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “While we are pleased with the possibility of back-to-back rate reductions, we also encourage customers to take advantage of tools and tips from our energy experts to help customers reduce their energy usage and make their bills even lower.”

Customer bills are made up of a combination of factors, with base rates and fuel costs the largest. Other costs include such things as expenses for environmental projects and temporary charges for storm recovery and preparation.

Utilities typically use a benchmark bill of residential customers who consume 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month. FPL has two sets of rates because of a merger with the former Gulf Power.

Customers in the former Gulf Power region in Northwest Florida who use 1,000 kilowatt hours in a month currently pay $149.89, according to FPL. That amount will decrease to $143.08 in April and would go to $135.38 in May under the proposal.

Such FPL customers in other parts of the state pay $135.69 for 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. That will go to $128.88 in April and would decrease to $121.19 in May under the proposal.

While profits are built into utility base rates, the companies are not supposed to profit from fuel costs.

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