Florida Power & Light (FPL) filed a request on February 2 with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to reduce customer rates beginning April 1, in tandem with the commissioning of the new, gas-fired plant, the FPL Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center.
Florida Power & Light claims to be the third-largest electric utility nationwide, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts across nearly half of the Sunshine State. The decrease, FPL said, is “thanks to anticipated savings from increased fuel-efficiency and lower projected natural gas prices.”
The fourth rate decrease in 16 months, the April reduction will trim $1.65 off a typical 1,000-kilowatt hour (kWh) residential customer’s monthly bill – for a total reduction since 2014 of nearly $10, the utility stated, noting that FPL’s typical bill this April will be more than $16 lower than it was ten years ago.
FPL business customers also are expected to see a rate reduction – with typical commercial customer bills decreasing in the range of approximately 2 percent to 7 percent compared with current rates, depending on rate class and type of service.
“Our long-term strategy of investing in fuel-efficient modernizations, including phasing out old, oil-fired power plants and replacing them with advanced clean energy centers that run on clean, low-cost, U.S.-produced natural gas, continues to pay off meaningfully for our customers,” said FPL CEO Eric Silagy. “Today, our typical customer bills are more than 15 percent lower than they were a decade ago, and our continued investments in fuel efficiency will help keep fuel costs low over the long-term.”
The company confirmed that the FPL Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center is expected to enter service on April 1 – about two months ahead of schedule and on budget.
When the plant is commissioned, a generation base rate adjustment will take effect at the same time the plant’s fuel-efficiency improvement reduces the fuel rate, as prescribed by the company’s 2012 rate settlement agreement.
In addition, FPL is requesting PSC approval to reduce the fuel rate further to reflect lower fuel cost projections for 2016, primarily due to lower projected natural gas prices.
The FPL Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center is designed to generate enough electricity to power about 260,000 homes and businesses – using 35 percent less fuel than the original oil-fired plant that it is replacing.
Investments in high-efficiency natural gas generation have enabled FPL to reduce its use of foreign oil by more than 99 percent – from more than 41 million barrels of oil in 2001 to less than 1 million barrels annually today. The company has been strategically phasing out older, less-efficient fossil fuel plants and replacing them with new, high-efficiency natural gas energy.
Since 2001, FPL stated, the effectiveness of these investments has saved ratepayers more than $8 billion on fuel.
“As many utilities across the country look at significant costs to comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, our history of smart, long-term investments in clean, fuel-efficient technology have positioned us well, mitigating the need for our customers to pay more for compliance,” noted Silagy. “By investing strategically over many years in clean, U.S.-produced natural gas, zero-emissions nuclear and solar energy, FPL has proven that it is possible for an electric utility to deliver service that is clean, reliable and low-cost.”
Last month, FPL initiated the process of setting new base rates to take effect when the current base rate settlement agreement expires at the end of 2016. In March, FPL plans to formally file a four-year rate plan proposal to include three base rate adjustments during the period 2017 through 2020 to support continued investments in advanced infrastructure and clean generation, including the FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center, a natural gas, combined cycle power plant in Okeechobee County, which is scheduled to begin serving customers in 2019.