After high natural-gas costs helped push up electric bills over the past year, many Florida utility customers could get some relief in 2024.
The three major private electric utilities — Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. — plan to lower customer bills, with the biggest changes coming at Tampa Electric and Duke.
Utility bills are made up of a mixture of costs, such as base rates, environmental costs, storm costs and power-plant fuel costs. With Florida utilities heavily reliant on natural gas to fuel plants, high gas prices in 2022 played a key role in driving up bills in 2023.
Gas prices, however, have subsided, resulting in utilities not having to collect as much from customers in 2024 to cover the tab.
“Fuel costs have declined since the high prices of 2022, and, as a result, we are in a position to reduce electricity bills in 2024,” Archie Collins, president and CEO of Tampa Electric, said in a recent statement. “We are pleased that Tampa Electric customers will get some welcome relief, after a record-breaking summer for electricity use.”
Other factors also will come into play. As an example, Duke faced an estimated $91.9 million in restoration costs from the Aug. 30 Hurricane Idalia. The Florida Public Service Commission this month approved allowing Duke to collect the Idalia costs in 2024. But to help cushion the blow, Duke also will spread out costs that it already is collecting for a series of earlier storms, such as Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole. The net effect is that spreading out costs over a longer period of time will reduce the impact on customers’ monthly bills.
“By combining Hurricane Idalia costs with the remaining balance of prior storms and previously filed bill reductions like lower fuel costs, we are able to provide some much-needed bill relief to our customers,” Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president, said in a statement after the Dec. 5 Public Service Commission decision.
In addressing rates, utilities rely on a benchmark of residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month. Here is what such customers can expect to pay in 2024, according to numbers provided by the utilities:
— Tampa Electric customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours will pay $143.48 in January, down from the current $161.13.
— Duke customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours will pay $171.71 in January, down from the current $183.
— Because of a merger with the former Gulf Power, FPL has two sets of rates.
Customers in the former Gulf Power region in Northwest Florida who use 1,000 kilowatt hours will pay $149.70 in January, down from the current $154.91. Such bills will decrease to $143.06 in April after a storm-related charge ends.
Other FPL customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours will pay $135.51 in January, down from the current $136. Such bills will decrease to $128.86 in April because of the end of the storm-related charges.
While base rates are generally locked in for multiple years, the Public Service Commission each year reviews and adjusts utility costs for such things as fuel. Utilities are supposed to pass along fuel costs without profiting from them.
View the NBC6 Miami News video ‘Five Easy Tricks To Cool Off Your Utility Bills This Winter‘ below:
Source: NBC6 Miami News