Florida Power & Light customers will pay ever so slightly less on their monthly bill through December.
But the adjustment doesn’t make up for the steady rise in electricity costs this year.
State regulators on Tuesday approved an ask to adjust the Juno Beach-based utility’s expected fuel costs in 2023 by more than $494 million, to be spread out over an 11-month period into 2024. That translates to about $4.43 in savings per month this year, compared to what had been projected, for a residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours of energy.
Instead of that customer paying $144.38, the cost of an April bill, they will pay $139.95. And in northwest Florida, a former Gulf Power customer who uses the same amount of energy will pay $158.86 instead of $163.30.
At the end of each year, electric utilities predict for the following year how much they intend to spend on fuel, which is a cost passed onto customers. If at any point that projection might be 10% higher or lower than anticipated, utilities notify state regulators at the Florida Public Service Commission of the change, file a petition to charge customers more or less, called a mid-course correction, or explain why their charges shouldn’t change.
War in Ukraine drives up fuel costs for FPL customers
The war in Ukraine had throttled fuel costs last year. Rather than file a mid-course correction, FPL waited until January to calculate how much it had undercharged customers for fuel. Customers are being charged over a 21-month period for the $2.1 billion in fuel costs.
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This year, costs are lower because of “mild winter weather across large parts of the country resulting in lower natural gas consumption,” according to commission staff who supported the request.
About three-quarters of those savings will be applied between May and December, and the rest will be rolled into 2024 fuel costs. This is on top of the $1 billion reduction in projected 2023 fuel costs that FPL asked for and received.
Overall, customers in northwest Florida are paying about $3 more for 1,000 kilowatt hours of energy than they were in January. The rest of FPL’s residential customers are paying $14 more. In addition to last year’s fuel costs, FPL is also charging its customers $1.3 billion over a 12-month period that it had spent on recovering from Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.