AARP seeks delay in hearing on FPL rate increase

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Power & Light and other parties backing a settlement that would lead to higher electricity rates are urging state regulators to reject a request by the senior-advocacy group AARP to delay a scheduled Oct. 27 hearing on the proposal.

AARP last week filed an objection to the settlement and requested a two-week extension of the hearing date, according to documents posted on the state Public Service Commission website.

But FPL, the state Office of Public Counsel, the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association and the Florida Retail Federation --- which reached the settlement --- filed a response Monday opposing AARP's request.

"It is in no one's interest to delay the settlement hearing such that FPL might have to put the higher rates filed with its rate petition into effect on January 1, 2017 subject to refund," the response said.

The settlement, which was announced Oct. 6, calls for a $400 million increase in base rates effective Jan., 1, followed by increases of $211 million in 2018 and $200 million in 2019.

The settlement trimmed hundreds of millions of dollars off an earlier proposal by FPL to raise base rates, but AARP said in its filing last week that the settlement would be "harmful to residential ratepayers of FPL."

The Public Service Commission is responsible for deciding whether to approve the settlement.