JUNO BEACH -- Florida Power and Light Co. is projecting that electric bills will jump 5 percent starting January for most customers.
FPL released its projections Friday afternoon saying that the typical 1,000-kWh home will have to pay about $5 more, or 17 cents per day, because of an expected increase in fuel costs to generate power.
The announcement was part of FPL's annual fuel cost filing with the Florida Public Service Commission. Rates aren't expected to be finalized and approved until later this year.
"It's important to us that we do our part to help keep Florida an affordable place
to live, work, run a business and raise a family," said FPL President Eric Silagy in a prepared statement. "As a result of our investments in efficiency, we are keeping customer bills lower than they were a few years ago and far lower than the state and national averages -- without sacrificing service or reliability. Keeping bills low for our customers while maintaining strong reliability and customer service is a top priority for every one of us at FPL."
The rate increase is part of a fuel component of FPL's bill that the company charges so that the power company can buy enough gas to generate power at all of its electric plants, according to the company.
FPL maintains that the bills overall will be lower than the 2006-09 years, and most customers pay $103 to $109 a month now.
However, FPL was in the middle of a rate hike controversy last year, and this year.
The Public Service Commission approved a $350 million rate increase effective January 2013, and would have allowed FPL to raise rates again when three new nuclear power plants come online without the PSC giving the OK.
The first of those plants at Cape Canaveral started in June, prompting a $1 per month increase, and a $2 per month increase was expected to come online in 2014. Consumers will be hit again with another $2 per month increase in 2016 when Rivera Beach's and Port Everglades' power plants are activated.
Public Counsel J.R. Kelly, whose job is to represent consumers when rate increases are considered, requested the Florida Supreme Court to hear arguments on the rate settlement, saying that his office wasn't included when the settlement was discussed, according to the Miami Herald. Kelly also argued the rates ought to decrease.
The state Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in Citizens of the State of Florida, etc., v. Florida Public Service Commission on Sept. 19.
FPL said its 2014 fuel rates are not tied to an announced new natural gas pipeline system in the state.
Customers can visit www.FPL.com/rates to use FPL's online calculator to see estimated 2014 bills based on their own energy usage.
"What's most important is that the investments that we've made -- and continue to makeare working," added Silagy. "In recent years, while the costs of other necessities such as groceries, gasoline and health care have increased, the price that FPL customers pay for electricity has declined."
AARP Florida filed a "friend of the court" brief in April to support the Public Counsel's case against FPL citing lack of evidence by the power company to raise rates.