Business Group Backs FPL Settlement on Irma Costs

Posted By: Garnie Holmes Industry ,

A group that represents major commercial electricity users has signed on to a settlement agreement about Florida Power & Light’s costs to restore electricity after Hurricane Irma in 2017.

The Florida Industrial Power Users Group, commonly known as FIPUG, filed a document Wednesday at the state Public Service Commission saying it has joined the settlement. “FIPUG believes that the settlement agreement sufficiently and satisfactorily addresses and resolves all issues in dispute in this docket,” the group’s attorneys, Jon Moyle and Karen Putnal, wrote in the filing. The settlement was reached last week by FPL and the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues.

FPL and the Office of Public Counsel reached agreement on about $1.3 billion in Irma-related costs --- and a process to better track costs during future storms. FPL says it spent $1.375 billion to restore electricity after Hurricane Irma blew through the state. But in filings as recent as late May, the Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group and the Florida Retail Federation questioned hundreds of millions of dollars in costs. Utilities in the past have typically been allowed to recoup storm-restoration costs from customers through tacking on extra charges to monthly electric bills. But utilities also have to go before the Public Service Commission to justify the details of the costs.

The situation with FPL and its Irma costs is somewhat different because the utility decided to use savings from a 2017 federal tax overhaul to cover the Irma restoration costs, rather than adding charges to customers’ monthly bills. The Public Service Commission is scheduled to take up the settlement and other potential issues July 9. The settlement said the Florida Retail Federation indicated it did not anticipate joining the agreement.

Article reposted with permission from The News Service of Florida.