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Duke seeks Irma recovery, Florida Power & Light to review tax plan

Duke Energy Florida filed a petition Thursday with the Florida Public ServiceCommission requesting authorization to recover from customers $531 million instorm restoration costs related to Hurricanes Irma and Nate and thereplenishment of its retail storm reserve.

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Hurricane Irma made landfall September 10 as a Category 4 hurricane. DEFcalled it the most devastating storm to impact its Florida service territory. At the storm's height nearly three-quarters of DEF's customers, or 1.3million, were without power.

DEF, which has approximately 1.8 million customers in 35 counties in thenorthern and central parts of Florida, told the Florida PUC in its petitionthat it expects to charge its residential customers $5.20 per 1,000 kWh ontheir monthly bill over a three-year period starting in March, while itscommercial and industrial customers will see an increase of approximately 2.5%to 6.6% on their monthly bills.

"Although the 2017 settlement provides for a 12-month recovery period anddoes not impose a cap on the level of charges on a customer's bill, DEFrecognizes the impact of the full storm recovery amount over 12 months to ourcustomers," Marcia Oliver, Duke Energy Florida's director of rates andregulatory planning said in the filing. "To mitigate a large rate increase,DEF proposes to spread the storm recovery amount over 36 months."

Oliver also told the commission that "due to the magnitude" of the recoverablecosts and to the extended recovery period, DEF issued in December two-yearsenior unsecured amortizing bonds in the amount of $400 million at an interestrate of 2.1% to finance the recoverable costs.

DEF reminded the commission it was able to restore power to 1 millioncustomers in three days, and restored power to essentially all customers bySeptember 20.

"Restoration work was very labor intensive," it said in its filing.

DEF said it would expect to include its storm recovery charge beginning withthe first billing cycle of March and ending with the last billing cycle ofFebruary 2021.


In an abrupt change of plans, the state's largest utility, Florida Power &Light, said Friday that it would not be filing a Hurricane Irma cost recoveryplan with the Florida PUC by December 31, as previously expected.

"We are conducting a broad review of the new federal tax reform law and itsimplications for FPL operations and Hurricane Irma cost recovery," spokesmanDavid McDermitt said.

"As a result, FPL customer bills will decrease beginning March 1, 2018, withthe expiration of the current surcharge for Hurricane Matthew recovery --$3.36 per 1,000 kWh of electricity," McDermitt said.

"The tax reform package is complicated and voluminous. We will provide moreinformation in the coming weeks about our plans for Hurricane Irma costrecovery," he said.

FPL executives had said in November that they expected to seek $1.3 billion inrestoration costs.


Tampa Electric filed Thursday with the Florida PUC seeking $88 million ofrecovery costs to restore power after Hurricane Irma "and several previousstorms."

The utility, which has 460,000 customer accounts, asked for authorizationto add $4 to the monthly bill of average customers who use 1,000 kWh/month.

"The temporary 'storm surcharge' would take effect in March and continuethroughout 2018, when it would likely be reduced," the Tampa utility said in astatement Thursday. "It would cover the company's storm expenses for the past three years and replenish the storm reserve for future events."

--Jeffrey Ryser, by Jason Lindquist,