Florida Power & Light customers will see their monthly electric bills rise by 18% by 2025 under the utility’s proposed four-year rate plan submitted to state utility regulators.
Rate increases generating about $2 billion would be phased in beginning in 2022 and would help fund $29 billion in planned improvements, including expanding natural gas and solar power generation, hardening the company’s distribution grid to reduce outages in storms, and preparing for future customer growth, FPL said in a recent news release.
According to the company, a typical household now paying $99 for 1,000 kWh a month would pay $117 a month when the rate increases are fully phased in by 2025. Small and medium-sized business customers would see annual rate increases of 3.9% to 4.4% between 2021 and 2025, the utility said. Large commercial and industrial customers with more complex rate structures should contact their account managers for information about their rate adjustments.
The utility stressed that typical bills for residential and small- to medium-sized business will remain “well below” the national average through 2025, even with the proposed rate hikes. Thanks to efficiencies implemented over the past two decades, typical FPL customers are paying about 10% less today than in 2006, the company said.
Improvements funded by the rate hikes include:
- Continued investment in FPL’s plan to install 30 million solar panels in the state by 2030.
- Construction of the world’s largest integrated solar powered battery and work on a green hydrogen pilot project, “a technology that could one day unlock 100% carbon-free electricity that’s available 24 hours a day.”
- Completion of the new “ultra-efficient” natural gas-fueled power plant in Dania Beach by mid-2022.
- New infrastructure needed to serve 500,000 new customers projected to move into the state between 2018 and 2025.
Richard Gentry, the state’s new public counsel, a position created by the legislature to represent utility customers in the Florida Public Service Commission’s rate review processes, said he has not yet had time to study FPL’s proposal.
“To be quite honest, I haven’t formed an opinion yet,” Gentry said. “I’m going to read the petition and associated documents and start out there.”
Gentry’s predecessor, J.R. Kelly, in January criticized the 11.5% return on investment that FPL said it planned to propose, calling it “not reasonable in terms of today’s interest rates, which are at an all-time low.” Kelly stepped down from the position in January after a law enacted last spring capped the public counsel’s term at 12 years. While in the role, Kelly frequently objected to utilities’ efforts to raise rates.
Gentry is a long-time lobbyist and former general counsel for the Florida Home Builders Association.
FPL expects the Public Service Commission to make a decision on its proposed four-year rate plan sometime this year.
A subsidiary of NextEra Energy, FPL will be merged with newly acquired Gulf Power next year and serve 5.6 million customers from the Panhandle to Florida’s southeastern coast.