Under FPL Proposal, Customers Would Pay for Hurricane Matthew Reparations

Florida Power & Light is seeking approval to collect $318.5 million – most of it, from customers – to recoup “incremental storm restoration costs” associated with Hurricane Matthew last October and to replenish a storm reserve, according to documents filed (Docket No. 160251EI) at the state Public Service Commission.

If approved by regulators, extra costs would start impacting FPL customers as of March 1 and would continue for a year, based on a January 3 report by the Miami Herald.

Residential customers who use 1,000 kWh of electricity per month, for example, would see their monthly bills increase by $3.36.

The utility, which supplies power to much of the state’s eastern coast, said nearly 1.2 million FPL customers had reported outages. The hurricane did not make direct landfall, but caused substantial damage along the east coast of the Florida peninsula , reaching nearly eight miles inland, according to the filing.

“Restoring service to so many customers was a massive undertaking,” the utility said in one of the documents filed with the PSC.  “As part of service restoration, FPL replaced over 250 miles of wire, more than 900 transformers, and over 400 poles. Moreover, a large amount of vegetation clearing was required”.

FPL is basing its request to recoup the costs on part of a 2012 settlement agreement in a base-rate case, the Herald reported.

The filing detailed that the settlement enables the utility to collect restoration costs above the amount in the storm reserve and to replenish the reserve.

FPL estimated restoration costs at $316.8 million and said it is entitled to recover $293.8 million of that amount from customers after adjustments related, at least in part, to an accounting methodology.

A storm reserve of $93.1 million would partially offset that total, leaving $200.7 million to be recovered because of Matthew, according to the utility’s proposal, the Miami Herald reported.

FPL also contends it is entitled to collect $117.1 million to replenish the storm reserve, the local news outlet said. Coupled with some relatively small additions for issues such as interest, the combined total sought from customers would be $318.5 million.

At this point, the commission has not released a schedule for considering this filing, the newspaper noted.

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