Florida Power & Light pressing for rate increase

FPL generic. (WPLG)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Electricity costs for Florida Power and Light customers could go up by nearly 20% over the next four years if approved by the Public Service Commission.

On Thursday, the first of a dozen hearings saw public response generally supportive of the hike.

If the utility’s request is approved, rates would increase by 18.2% by the year 2025, impacting 11 million Floridians served by FP&L.

The utility said the intention is to improve clean energy infrastructure and grid resiliency.

“The plan will allow us to continue to make proven investments in infrastructure, clean energy and technology that benefit our customers and a growing state,” said FP&L CEO Eric Silagy.

Of the more than 30 customers who called into testify, the overwhelming majority said they supported the rate hike request.

But groups fighting the rate hike criticized FP&L for trying to raise rates while more than 650,000 of its customers are still struggling to pay their bills.

“What’s reliability if you can’t afford to keep the lights on due to a high bill?” said Jordan Luebkemann with Florida Rising.

Aliki Moncrief with Florida Conservation Voters said that while the hike is being marketed as a way to shift to cleaner energy, $425 million of the $2 billion anticipated from the hike goes toward natural gas.

“Gas, while it’s better than coal, while it’s better than oil, still has carbon emissions,” said Moncrief.

But Moncrief was happy to see $550 million going toward solar.

“The challenge with that is, who should be paying for this and how much profit should Florida Power and Light be reaping?” said Moncrief.

A decision on the rate hike request is expected by Nov. 12.

FP&L did note in the hearing that it spent $75 million helping its customers keep the lights on throughout the pandemic.

The company urged anyone still struggling to pay their bill to call FP&L for assistance.