aarp florida logoUtility Monopoly Gets Unanimous  OK From Government Panel for Unwarranted Rate Increase

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TALLAHASSEE – AARP Florida’s state director, Jeff Johnson, issued the following statement today after the Florida Public Service Commission granted Florida Power & Light (FPL) an increase in its base rates, which guarantees the utility’s shareholders an unreasonably high profit at the expense of residential customers. Today’s decision sets the precedent for other publicly owned utility companies to ask for unwarranted and outrageous increases, Johnson warned.

“Today’s decision demonstrates what observers of Florida utilities regulation have long believed – this system is simply not hearing the voices of residential consumers,” Johnson said.  “Until this imbalance is addressed, the interests of Florida residential ratepayers will come last and those of out-of-state shareholders will come first.

“Florida legislators should address this broken system to ensure that ordinary Florida consumers can have confidence that their voices will be heard,” Johnson added.  “Residential ratepayers need an independent public counsel dedicated to their interests.”

Under today’s ruling, FPL shareholders will receive an ongoing return on their investment (ROI) of up to 11.6 percent.  “Even before this ruling, FPL stood to make $1.6 billion in profit over the next four years.  Now FPL gets even more,” Johnson said.  AARP believes the 11.6 percent ROI is unreasonable and well above the national average of 9.5 percent for similar-sized public utility companies.

“AARP members in Florida can only dream of earning these kinds of returns on their investments,” Johnson said.  “This ruling is an early Christmas present for FPL – and Florida consumers are getting stuck with the bill.”

Johnson noted that the settlement agreement approved today by the PSC was worked out between utility companies and large utility customers representing a minority of the organizations that formally intervened in the rate case.

“By putting its stamp on a settlement agreement worked out between FPL and large-scale utility customers –but vigorously opposed by AARP on behalf of consumers age 50-plus – the PSC has once again OK’d a side deal that benefits utility companies and large utility customers at the expense of Florida ratepayers, especially those on fixed incomes and of modest means,” Johnson said.