Utility regulators want Sarasota’s input on FPL rate increase

Florida Power & Light President Eric Silagy

The Public Service Commission — the state board that oversees Florida’s utility providers — will hear public testimony in Sarasota next Thurs., May 31, about a proposed Florida Power & Light rate increase that would generate more than $690 million in additional revenue for the company in 2013 alone.

According to a public notice about the meeting, the rate increase proposal would cost FPL customers an additional $7.09 per 1,000 kilowatt hours per month, but that because of “an estimated reduction in the cost of fuel and other changes in the bill,” customers would end up paying only $1.41 more per 1,000 kilowatt hours.

FPL first notified the Public Service Commission of its intent to request the rate increase in a March 19 filing. “While FPL’s focus on efficiency and productivity has lessened the impact of inflation,” FPL representatives write, “the costs of many materials and products that the Company must purchase in order to provide affordable, reliable power have risen significantly over the past few years. These cost pressures contribute to our need for rate relief.”

“In return for the investment FPL makes to provide customers with reliable, clean and affordable electric service, shareholders must be provided with the opportunity to earn a reasonable and adequate return on their investment,” the filing adds. FPL is based in Juno Beach, Fla., and is a wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy, which pulled in $15.3 billion in revenues and $1.9 billion in net income in 2011.

Sarasota residents may remember that in 2010, local environmental activists and then-Mayor Kelly Kirschner led a campaign to extricate the city from its decades-long energy contract with FPL to allow the city to pursue a greater renewable energy portfolio. The City Commission eventually caved to FPL’s demands, and signed an agreement to give the company a 30-year monopoly on energy production in Sarasota.

Also in 2010, two Public Service Commission appointees who had opposed an FPL rate increase request were “kicked off” the board, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Among the lawmakers who pushed to have the commissioners booted? Our own state Sen. Mike Bennett.

The meeting will be held in the Sarasota City Commission chambers at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 31. The Public Service Commission is expected to vote on the rate increase request in November.