Fuel costs could drive up utility’s bills

Posted By: Dave Heller Industry , Legislative/Regulatory ,

Utility customers in some parts of North Florida could see their monthly electric bills increase in August because of higher-than-expected fuel costs for power plants.

Florida Public Utilities Co., which provides electricity in Jackson, Calhoun, Liberty and Nassau counties, filed a proposal Tuesday at the state Public Service Commission seeking to pass along additional costs to customers. Under the proposal, residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month would pay an additional $14.89 a month from August through December.

Utilities generally are allowed to pass along fuel costs to customers and are not supposed to profit from those costs. Each year, the commission sets the amounts that utilities can collect for fuel in the following year. But if costs are higher than expected, utilities can seek “mid-course corrections.”

Florida Public Utilities, which has 32,000 customers, is seeking to recoup $3.79 million because fuel costs in 2021 were higher than expected. The utility said in the filing that it has also seen increased fuel costs this year but is not immediately trying to pass along those costs.

As the commission is aware, the market has been dramatically impacted as a result of a confluence of events, both domestic and international,” the filing said.

“However, because the market is currently unsettled, and events impacting the market remain volatile, the company believes it would be more appropriate to continue to monitor the market to assess whether the volatility of conditions impacting the market will resolve or moderate to a degree that the company's revised projections of its fuel and purchase power costs for the remainder of the period may be mitigated.”

The commission in recent months has approved mid-course corrections for Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co., as the utility industry grapples with high natural-gas costs. Utilities use 1,000-kilowatt hour residential bills as a benchmark, but electricity use varies widely.

Article reposted with permission from the News Service of Florida.