Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PSC Approves Surcharges after Storms; Commission Says Florida Power & Light Can Recoup $442 Million in Losses from 2004 Hurricanes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PSC Approves Surcharges after Storms; Commission Says Florida Power & Light Can Recoup $442 Million in Losses from 2004 Hurricanes

Article excerpt

Byline: J. TAYLOR RUSHING

TALLAHASSEE -- State regulators on Tuesday granted Florida's largest power company the bulk of its request to recoup its 2004 hurricane losses from its customers.

The four-member Public Service Commission in Tallahassee said Florida Power & Light Co. was entitled to $442 million of its original $533 million request to add special, statewide surcharges to business and residential bills.

Commissioners Braulio Baez, Rudy Bradley, J. Terry Deason and Lisa Polak Edgar decided most parts of the request unanimously after agreeing with an internal staff recommendation to trim labor and other costs. The commission has one vacancy due to the June 1 resignation of Charles Davidson.

Florida Power has 4.3 million business and residential accounts in 35 of the state's 67 counties, including 141,000 accounts in Baker, Clay, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties. The company has been charging an extra $2.09 per month since February, promising to refund the money if the commission decides against final approval.

Company spokesman Bill Swank said after Tuesday's hearing that the $2.09 monthly surcharges will continue until Sept. 16. Then they will be replaced by a $1.68 monthly surcharge until February 2008.

Commissioners split only once Tuesday, on the issue of whether Floridians should be responsible for making up the company's lost revenue and keeping it fiscally secure. Deason and Edgar said such a move could set an important and irreversible precedent of improperly erasing companies' risks. Commissioners eventually agreed to $33 million of the $38 million in "lost revenue" the company had requested.

"What is the goal we're trying to accomplish here?" Deason said. "We're shifting the risk from the company to customers. . . . I'm raising these questions to show the level of concern I have with the concept of 'lost revenue. …

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