AARP Florida opposed fee increase because local consumers cannot afford it

TALLAHASSEE – AARP Florida issued the following statement Tuesday following the Florida Public Service Commission vote to approve a rate increase for Gulf Power to recoup the cost of Hurricane Michael damage to electrical power systems.

“AARP Florida is disappointed but not surprised that state regulators unanimously granted Gulf Power’s monthly increase request,” said Zayne Smith, AARP Florida Associate State Director for Advocacy.

AARP Florida objected to the increase because the total cost of the storm recovery is not yet known and consumers in the coverage area cannot afford an increase at this time. Gulf Power, which now is owned by Florida Power & Light (FPL), asked the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) for an $8-a-month per 1,000 KwH storm cost recovery fee increase. PSC Commissioner Gary Clark admitted during the May 14 hearing that the increase is going to hurt some residents, who will likely see bills increase $16 to $30 a month. This increase will last for five years.

“It’s unfortunate that while many Panhandle residents continue to recover from Hurricane Michael, they will now have pay more for their monthly power bills,” said Smith. “We understand that Gulf Power suffered extensive damage to the grid. However, this increase will hurt low-income and fixed income households the most.”

Florida Power & Light’s 2019 first quarter revenues were $2.6 billion. FPL parent company NextEra Energy, which is based in Juno Beach, reported net income of $6.6 billion in 2018, up from $5.3 billion in 2017.

A Gulf Power representative admitted to the commission during the hearing that roughly 8,600 homes are still without power because the residents could not make necessary repairs to reconnect power to their homes.

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