Duke Energy Florida has announced that customers will directly benefit from the new federal tax law and avoid a rate increase for power restoration costs associated with the company's response to last September's Hurricane Irma.
Instead of increasing customer rates, the company plans to apply federal tax reform savings toward those storm costs.
On Dec. 28, 2017, the company had filed for recovery of $513 million – $381 million for power restoration costs and $132 million to replenish the storm reserve fund. Residential customers would have seen an increase of $5.20 per 1,000 kWh of electricity on a typical monthly bill over a three-year recovery period – an average of $187.20. Commercial and industrial customers were expected to see an increase of approximately 2.5 to 6.6 percent, though bills would have varied depending on a number of factors.
Like many companies, Duke Energy has been working to analyze the benefits of tax reform.
"We are pleased that this solution will prevent a rate increase for our customers," said Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida state president. "Hurricane Irma was the worst storm to ever hit Duke Energy Florida and impacted many lives. Redirecting the tax reform savings against the storm costs ensures that our customers will reap the benefits of this new law."
The change is supported by the Office of Public Counsel and consumer advocate groups. The Florida Public Service Commission will review the costs to be recovered and the level of the tax benefit and approve the change by year-end.
Hurricane Irma was a historic hurricane that caused widespread, devastating damage across the Southeast region. Utilities united and battled back with an unprecedented response.
Duke Energy crews and contractors from the Midwest and the Carolinas traveled to Florida to assist with restoration, as did workers for utilities from across the country and from as far as Canada to get 1.3 million customers restored as quickly and safely as possible.
In Florida, more than 12,000 line and field workers replaced approximately 1,800 distribution poles, 140 transmission poles and 1,100 transformers. Duke Energy restored power to more than 75 percent of its customers in just three days and 99 percent within eight days.