A recent letter wanted to disallow Florida Power & Light's billing charge. As a 25-year employee of a water/sewer utility, I am familiar with the way charges are allowed by the Public Service Commission or other utility regulators.
Charges are broken down into two basic categories, fixed and demand-based charges. Demand would be all the charges associated with demand or usage -- in our case the cost of water and sewer operations.
Fixed charges would be debt service, cost of fixed assets and billing charges. These are charges that are constant no matter what each customer uses.
There is a requirement that the actual charge for generating bills be identified and this total divided between the actual number of customers at the time of the rate case. In our case it was the cost of meter reading, office time and expenses in rendering the bill and other related charges.
I'm sure that FPL's billing charge is handled in the same manner.
Since the cost of a meter is in the fixed charges, as FPL switches over to a system of radio meter reading it might be possible that in the future the billing charge will go down since the manpower to physically read the meters has to be a major expense.
In any event, the charge is determined by the Public Service Commission, not the utility.