After months of public meetings around the state, the Public Service Commission hearings regarding Florida Power & Light’s request for a $690 million rate increase are nearing an end. This week, the PSC is deciding whether to accept a so-called “settlement” that FPL arranged with three industry groups. As Florida’s largest utility, this rate increase will affect 8 million Floridians, not just industrial power users. This rate increase will fall on the backs of families and businesses.
FPL’s original request was for a 16 percent increase in base rates starting in 2013. Then, after weeks of public testimony, FPL announced its “settlement.” Although FPL wants the public to think the settlement is a decrease from its originally requested rate increase, it actually shifts $50 million a year in increases from major power users to residential consumers.
The “settlement” also allows FPL to circumvent the rate approval process for future power plants and increases monthly late fees on residential bills. Other utility providers around the state are lowering customer bills because of lower fuel costs, but FPL wants their customers to pay more.
FPL has a lot to lose if the settlement isn’t approved — all told, the new agreement would give FPL nearly one billion dollars more revenue, over the next four years, than its original rate increase request. This settlement is a great deal for FPL but an awful deal for its customers.
Gov. Rick Scott has said his focus is on leaving money in Florida families’ pockets.
At this time in Florida’s economic recovery, he knows families need every dollar that comes in.
The members of the PSC need to protect the interest of all Floridians, not just the interests that have lobbyists and representatives to negotiate for them, and deny FPL’s settlement. Florida’s families and businesses just can’t afford increased utility rates.
Slade O’Brien, Florida director, Americans for Prosperity, Tallahassee