The Florida Public Service Commission on Monday convened the first of several public hearings regarding a $2 billion rate increase request by Florida Power Light, the state’s largest utility company.
If approved, it would be the largest rate boost in state history, swelling the average FPL customer’s bill by $216 per year by 2025.
In remarks, Florida Power & Light President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Silagy told the commission his company needs the extra cash to meet increased demand for electricity in a state with a booming population.
‘We now serve more than 11 million Floridians, and though we’ve invested billions of dollars every year to support Florida’s growth and to continuously improve your service, many of these investments are not included in our current rates,’ Florida Power & Light President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Silagy testified during a Florida Public Service Commission hearing Monday. (Spectrum News/Troy Kinsey)
“FPL has also grown,” Silagy said. “We now serve more than 11 million Floridians, and though we’ve invested billions of dollars every year to support Florida’s growth and to continuously improve your service, many of these investments are not included in our current rates.”
Among other things, FPL is proposing applying much of the proceeds from higher rates to expanding its network of solar farms and building new power plants, including an ‘ultraefficient’ natural gas plant in South Florida.
But consumer advocates call the proposal a giveaway to FPL shareholders, allowing for a 2% higher return on equity than the national average for electric utilities. In testimony following Silagy’s appearance, Jordan Luebkemann of Florida Rising disputed FPL’s contention that it won’t be able to satisfy future demand based on its current rates.
“FPL has built more power plants with much more capacity than customers can actually use, but you get charged to build and maintain these plants even if they never run,” Luebkemann said.
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Following the public comment period, the PSC will convene a rate increase hearing that could last up to two weeks. Last month, the commission approved a request by Duke Energy to charge its customers as much as 4% more over the next three years in order to retire the company’s coal-burning power plants and modernize its electric grid.