Tampa Electric Customers Could See Rate Hikes

Posted By: Garnie Holmes Industry , Legislative/Regulatory ,

TECOBy Jim Saunders

Tampa Electric Co. on Friday filed a proposal seeking more than $400 million in base-rate increases during the next three years, saying the additional money would help meet the needs of customers and expand clean energy.

“While the company has undertaken cost-savings initiatives and found productivity efficiencies, they are not sufficient for Tampa Electric to continue to meet the electric needs of existing and new customers at current base rates,” the company said in the proposal filed at the Florida Public Service Commission.

Tampa Electric, which has about 800,000 customers in Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco and Pinellas counties, announced in February that it would seek the base-rate increases. But the detailed filing Friday launches a months-long process that is expected to lead to the Public Service Commission deciding later this year whether to approve the request.

Under the proposal, Tampa Electric would receive a $295 million increase in base rates in January 2022, followed by increases of $102 million in 2023 and $25.6 million in 2024.

Residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month would see their bills go from the current $105.25 to $125.48 in 2022, about a 19 percent increase, according to Tampa Electric. The utility industry uses 1,000 kilowatt-hour residential bills as a benchmark, though actual electric usage varies widely.

The filing and a company news release said the increases would help with projects such as adding more solar power and a “modernization” of the Big Bend Power Station in Hillsborough County. The utility also said that some of the base-rate increases would be offset by lower fuel costs because of more solar power and plant upgrades. Fuel costs are passed along to customers and are separate from base rates.

“To continue delivering the value our customers deserve, we must plan for the long term, making investments now that create a better energy future,” Nancy Tower, chief executive officer of Tampa Electric, said in a prepared statement. “By modernizing our power plants and making them more efficient, as well as expanding solar generation, we are reducing fuel costs, we are improving air quality in the region, we are reducing carbon emissions and we are keeping customer bills more predictable over time.”

Base-rate cases are among the most closely watched issues at the Public Service Commission, as they involve large amounts of money and extensive financial and technical details. Tampa Electric is operating under a 2017 rate agreement that will end in December.

The commission also is considering a base-rate case filed last month by Florida Power & Light, which is seeking increases over four years. Duke Energy Florida announced in January that it had reached a proposed settlement with representatives of consumers and large commercial electricity users that would lead to increases over three years. The proposed settlement is pending at the commission.

Article reposted with permission from Public Power Daily.