FPL's request for $690.4 million rate increase gets poor reviews at customer service hearing

Rate would increase about $7 per month

Some anxious Palm Beach County residents are hoping to stop Florida Power & Light's proposal to hike power bills. The increase would affect residential rates starting in January 2013. FPL authorities say it would translate into a $7 increase to a typical monthly electric bill.

Spending $7 dollars is a big deal for some people.

"A week's groceries for some people, a couple good prescriptions for somebody else, gas for the car," said James Casey, a Royal Palm Beach resident who spoke to the Public Service Commission on Thursday. The commission has the final say when it comes to the FPL request.

West Palm Beach resident Eddie Strick is out of work these days. He was also among dozens of members of the public speaking out about FPL's proposed increase.

"I'm struggling to survive and any rate hike is just going to make it that much more difficult," said Strick.

FPL estimates approximately $690 million would be generated from increase to help pay for a new high-efficiency natural gas power plant in Brevard County.

"We are asking for a modest increase to keep bills low," said Alys Daly, an FPL spokesperson. The increases, the utility said, need to happen now to keep customer rates lower in the future. "There's never a good time for an increase of any type and we're mindful of the economy," said Daly.

There were heated comments for the Public Service Commission in suburban West Palm Beach.

"If you're a public service commission, do the public a service of denying this base increase," said one local woman.

FPL officials believe they have a 'good case' for the commission to consider their request. A final decision about the potential base rate increase could come by November.

As of January 2012, a 1000 kilowatt hour residential customer's monthly Florida Power & Light Co. bill is $94.62.

Under FPL's  proposed $690.4 million base rate increase of $5.23 in January and another $1.86 in June, the base rate will increase by a total of $7.09. Offset by lower fuel costs and ohter changes in the bill, the net increase will be $1.41.

The Florida Public Service Commission is scheduled to hear the case for 10 days beginning Aug. 20. It is expected to vote on the proposal in November.

Want to comment?

Customers can comment on FPL's proposed rate increase at these addresses:

Florida Public Service Commission

Office of Commission Clerk

2540 Shumard Oak Blvd.

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0850

The PSC will also accept faxes at (800) 511-0809 and emails at contact@psc.state.fl.us

Please refer to docket number 120015-EI.

The Palm Beach Post contributed to this story.

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