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FPL Rate Increase Battle Takes Florida Supreme Court – CBS Miami

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A group challenging Florida Power & Light’s plan to raise basic electricity rates is bringing a fight to the state’s Supreme Court.

The Floridians Against Rising Rates filed a notice this week that they are appealing the state Public Service Commission’s decision to approve a settlement that would result in the FPL rate increase starting. from January.

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As usual, the announcement did not detail the arguments the group would make in the Supreme Court. But the team has been battling the FPL for months over the rate case, including the utility’s attempt to prevent it from interfering with the case.

“The essence of the appeal is that the Florida Public Service Commission’s final order allows the Florida Light & Electric Company to raise prices and thereby charge its customers several billion dollars in additional prime interest fees. over the next four years and also to implement certain accounting measures and spending programs that will significantly affect utility customers,” the notice sent Monday at the commission, said.

In October, the Public Service Commission unanimously approved the settlement of rates that the FPL had reached with the state’s Office of Public Advice and several organizations involved in the case. The Office of Public Counsel represents consumers in matters of utility.

Under the 4-year agreement, FPL will be able to raise interest rates in 2022 to generate an additional $692 million in annual revenue, followed by an increase in 2023 that will generate $560 million in annual revenue. Additional increases are planned in 2024 and 2025 to pay for solar projects.

The plan also involves the rate integration of the FPL and Gulf Power of Northwest Florida, which have merged. That involves what is described as a “transitional driver” to account for the significantly different fees charged by FPL and Gulf. As a result, customers in Northwest Florida pay more than FPL customers in other regions.

In a written order dated 2 December carrying out an October vote, the Public Service Commission said “none of the parties to this case have questioned or presented evidence that the quality of service FPL’s service, performance, and response to outages are no exception. ”

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“After reviewing all submitted summaries and the evidence presented, we have found that taken as a whole, the 2021 settlement offers a reasonable resolution to all of the issues raised. raised, establish rates that are fair, just, reasonable, and beneficial to the community,” the Order said. “Therefore, the 2021 settlement has been approved.”

But in a brief report filed ahead of the October vote, Floridians Against Increasing Rates — or FAIR, as it is known — argued the utility was trying to collect billions of dollars in “money.” of customers it doesn’t need”.

“Perhaps the worst aspect of the settlement is that most, if not all, of these increases are not necessary for FPL to fulfill its obligation to provide safe and reliable service at low cost. the lowest possible cost,” the group’s summary said. “FPL can and will provide services in 2022 for a fee no greater than current rates.”

But in another summary in October, the FPL said the settlement was in the public interest.

“First, the settlement provides all FPL customers (i.e. those in both the former FPL service areas and the Gulf) with stability and predictability for their electricity prices. them, while allowing FPL to maintain the financial strength to make the necessary investments to safely provide customers with the reliability and exceptional service they have come to expect and has been facilitated facilitated by previous multi-year interest rate agreements approved by this committee,” the utility’s summary said. “Second, the agreement to increase the amount of zero-emission and fuel-free solar energy will be available to serve all FPL customers on a cost-effective basis.”

While groups representing customers frequently meddle in utility matters, Florida Power & Light has been unsuccessful in finding a way to keep FAIR out of the exchange rate case. The FPL argued in part that the nonprofit group was a “shell” organization and questioned its membership and finances.

But in its order dated December 2, the Public Service Commission concluded that FAIR, established in March, had “shown an affiliated position” to participate in the case.

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(© 2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Jim Saunders News Service of Florida contributed to this report. )

https://miami.cbslocal.com/2021/12/29/fpl-rate-hike-fight-goes-to-floridas-supreme-court/ FPL Rate Increase Battle Takes Florida Supreme Court – CBS Miami

Huynh Nguyen

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