FPL price hikes are no surprise

The following editorial was published in The Daily Sun on Jan 27, 2023.

OUR POSITION:We were warned about the price hikes requested by Florida Power & Light months ago.

Call it the bill for Hurricane Ian damage. Whatever excuse you want to use, it won’t make it any easier when you fork over money for your electric bill.

FPL announced this week it has asked the Public Service Commission to allow the utility to collect $1.3 billion from its customers for the money spent for Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. And, not to be short-changed, it also wants $2.1 billion to help offset the higher than expected cost of natural gas in 2022. Just to make us feel better FPL said it plans to reduce the use of gas in 2023 and save customers about $1 billion.

Don’t confuse this request with the increase in electric bills you are already facing. No, the increase in rates in January and the new rates that will begin next month were already approved by the PSC because of natural gas prices.

“FPL has a proven track record of keeping bills below the national average. When events beyond our control — like hurricanes and significant changes in fuel prices — force a change to customer bills, we try to do so in a thoughtful way that minimizes the impact on our customers …” FPL Chairman and CEO Eric Silagy said in a prepared statement according to the News Service of Florida.

That may be one of the last statements you hear from Silagy whose retirement was announced Thursday. Silagy, if you recall, was tied to scandals that accused FPL of giving millions of dollars to fund “ghost” candidates to sway state Senate elections in Florida. The Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that story.

Users of 1,000 kilowatts saw bills increase from $120.67 to $125.39 in January and will watch them rise to $129.59 in February. And, in April, brace for a bill around $142 if the PSC agrees — which is almost automatic.

That bad economic news comes at a time Floridians are trying to recover from two hurricanes. It’s bad timing to say the least.