Utility hurricane settlement approved nearly two years after Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (News Service of Florida) — Nearly two years after Hurricane Michael crushed some rural areas of Northwest Florida, state regulators Monday approved a settlement about Florida Public Utilities Co. recovering storm-related costs from customers.

Florida Public Utilities provides electricity in Jackson, Calhoun and Liberty counties, which sustained massive damage in the October 2018 storm.

Beth Keating, an attorney for the company, said all customers lost power after the hurricane, forcing a major effort to restore electricity and rebuild the company’s system. The company sought to recoup costs related to Michael and, to a lesser extent, costs related to 2019’s Hurricane Dorian, which threatened the company’s customers in Northeast Florida.

Keating said the company sought approval to recover about $70 million in costs, which would translate to about $11.9 million a year in what is known as a “revenue requirement.” But under an agreement reached with the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, changes were made that reduced the amount to about $11 million a year, said Patricia Christensen, an associate public counsel.

The settlement also includes steps aimed at better tracking storm-related costs in the future. The Florida Public Service Commission approved the settlement Monday with little discussion.

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