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Regulators unanimously approve FPL request to raise rates $811 million over four years

FPL power linesFlorida Power & Light customers will see their utility bills rise by $400 million beginning in January after state regulators approved a 2017 rate increase Tuesday, to be followed by $411 million in rate hikes in the next three years.

The monthly increase at the end of the four years for a customer that uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month would be would be about $9.48, starting with $5 more next year. It is less than the $13.23 increase the company initially projected.

The unanimous ruling by the Florida Public Service Commission was part of a settlement of the rate case FPL agreed to with opponents in October, in which FPL backed off its $1.3 billion rate request in return for the four-year rate guarantees.

The agreement was endorsed by the Florida Public Counsel, the lawyers representing utility customers, the South Florida Hospital and Health Care Association and the Florida Retail Federation. Others, such as the Florida chapter of the Sierra Club, Wal-Mart stores, federal executive agencies which include the military and AARP -- opposed it.

Opponents argued that FPL has been charging customers to build expensive natural gas back-up plants it shouldn't need and the agreement allows it to build another 26 natural gas turbines. The Sierra Club contends, for example, that if the utility giant stopped fighting the expansion of rooftop solar and other alternative forms of energy, its customers would save money and FPL could wean its fleet from its dependence on climate change inducing fossil fuels.

The commission did not address any of the opponents’ concerns and instead lauded the agreement as good for the customers and good for FPL. Story here.