utilities photo“The Public Service Commission is charged with providing 1) a regulatory process that results in fair and reasonable rates, 2) ensuring that all entities that provide utility service comply with all appropriate requirements and 3) most importantly, appropriate regulatory oversight for consumers.  The settlement brought before the Public Service Commission between Duke Energy and several organizations including the Office of Public Counsel and the Florida Retail Federation contains very complex issues, including costs associated with Duke’s botched repair of the Crystal River nuclear plant and the cancellation of the Levy County project.  Once again, the Public Service Commission’s decision will likely end with utility customers footing the bill.  In this case, the cost will be about $3.2 billion.

A part of this current decision is the added burden of the current advanced nuclear cost recovery law.  The result of the law is especially harmful for fixed-income older adults who cannot afford any additional rate increases and will not benefit from a single kilowatt hour of power.  Likewise, state regulators further burden customers with the unwarranted approval of standard rate cases.

With Social Security cost-of-living adjustments for 2014 expected to be lower than average, and while prices of other necessities like gas, groceries and prescription medications continually rise,  these added costs are not only unfair, but will be harmful to those who can least afford to pay them. Social Security is the only source of income for one-in-three older Floridians. For many of these adults keeping the power on is a legitimate health concern.

With the 17.1 percent poverty rate in Florida being among the highest in the nation, we are also worried about how added costs may affect customers of all ages.  AARP members will continue to voice concern for the actions and decisions of the Commission and state Legislature when these issues adversely affect consumers.  Utility costs and energy efficiencies will remain top priorities for AARP’s advocacy efforts in the state.”

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