TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Gulf Power Company and the Office of Public Counsel have reached a settlement.
"I think they've heard from the people of the state and from Gulf's customers, that they did not want this increase," said Bradley Marshall, EarthJustice Attorney.
The two groups came to an agreement Monday morning in response to Gulf Power's proposed rate hike that would have increased customers fixed rates.
"Fixed charges are the charge you pay without even using a single kilowatt hour of energy and Gulf already has some of the highest charges in the state being at over $18," said Marshall.
Gulf Power's proposal would have increased that to almost $50 for fixed charges. They withdrew that part of the proposal and in the settlement the fixed rates would only rise about one dollar.
"It's great news. What Gulf was proposing would have been catastrophic to low energy users," said Marshall.
There will still be some rate increases, though. The company originally requested an increase that would have raised the average customer bill from $144 to $158. Instead, under the terms of the settlement the average bill will rise from $144 to $151.
"What this means for our customers is about a $7 increase for the average customer, which, coincidentally, is less than they were paying in 2015," said Jeff Rogers, Gulf Power Spokesperson.
Since 2009, average customer rates have fluctuated between $127 and $156.
"Energy providers can't just sit and coast, we have to continue to maintain the infrastructure, we have to continue to invest in infrastructure, transmission lines, sub stations, I mean, we're a 90-year-old company. We've got equipment constantly aging that constantly has to be invested in to ensure reliability that our customers expect," said Rogers.
This agreement will now go before The Florida Public Service Commission for approval. If approved, Gulf Power will make the changes July 1 of this year.
Gulf Power and the Office of Public Counsel have reached a settlement about a proposed rate hike.
After requesting an increase in the average monthly customer bill from $144 to $158 officials have agreed on $151.
The issue will now be finalized by Florida's Public Service Commission.
“This compromise is good for all involved, including Gulf Power’s customers,” said Stan Connally, Gulf Power Chairman, President & CEO. “Most importantly, it supports our current infrastructure investment — which ultimately helps us continue to provide our customers with long-term, reliable service with a balanced energy mix across Northwest Florida.”
The proposed residential Advanced Pricing Package is not a part of the settlement agreement.
“We will continue to explore other options that give our customers the value that they expect through bill predictability and choice in pricing based on how our customers prefer to control their energy usage,” said Connally. “We will continue to gather customer feedback and find opportunities to deliver service to fit the lives of our customers.”
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the League of Women Voters of Florida, represented by Earthjustice were opposed to a portion of the original plan that would have raised monthly fixed charges. Those charges would have gone from $18 to $50.
"We are glad that Gulf Power has agreed to do the right thing," said Earthjustice attorney Bradley Marshall. "Raising this fixed charge on monthly bills would have unfairly penalized people who use less energy, and that makes no sense."
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