TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) – Staff members of the Florida Public Service Commission are recommending approval of a plan that would lead to Gulf Power collecting extra money from customers to pay costs stemming from Hurricane Michael.
The commission next week is scheduled to take up the Pensacola-based utility’s request to pass along $342 million in storm-related costs to customers. For residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month, that would mean an increase of $8 on their bills, starting in July, according to the commission staff recommendation.
Gulf would collect the extra charges for about five years. Parts of Gulf’s Northwest Florida service area sustained massive damage in the Oct. 10 hurricane, which made landfall in Mexico Beach and barreled north into Georgia.
The regulatory commission has signed off on such proposals from utilities after past storms. Also, Gulf operates under a 2017 rate settlement that anticipated the utility would be allowed to recover such costs if a major storm occurred.
A February filing said Gulf had 136,000 customer outages from the storm and that 120,452 customers lacked power late in the afternoon of Oct. 10. In all, 96 percent of customers in the utility’s eastern area lost power, with more than 99,000 outages in Bay County.
The commission will consider Gulf’s proposal to recoup the costs during a May 14 meeting.