FPL Looks To Recoup Hurricane Matthew Costs


Florida Power & Light is seeking approval to collect $318.5 million from customers to recoup costs from Hurricane Matthew and to replenish a storm reserve, according to documents filed at the state Public Service Commission.

The request, if approved by regulators, would start hitting FPL customers in March and continue for a year. Residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month, for example, would see their monthly bills increase by $3.36, the documents said.

The utility, which supplies power to much of the state’s East Coast, said almost 1.2 million FPL customers had service interrupted during the early October storm. The powerful hurricane did not make direct landfall in Florida but caused substantial damage in areas such as Brevard, Volusia, Flagler and St. Johns counties as it barreled north off the coast.

“Restoring service to so many customers was a massive undertaking,” the utility said in one of the documents filed Thursday with the Public Service Commission. “As part of service restoration, FPL replaced over 250 miles of wire, more than 900 transformers, and over 400 poles. Moreover, a large amount of vegetation clearing was required. Thanks to FPL’s effective pre-planning, as well as the dedication of its employees and contracted external resources and the strong performance of FPL’s hardened electric facilities, FPL was able to restore power to approximately 99 percent of its customers experiencing an outage by the end of the second full day after Hurricane Matthew left the service territory, and service was fully restored within four days.”

FPL is basing its request to recoup the costs on part of a 2012 settlement agreement in a base-rate case. It said in the documents that the settlement allows it to collect restoration costs above the amount in a storm reserve and to replenish the reserve.

In the filings, FPL estimated restoration costs at $316.8 million and said it is entitled to recover $293.8 million of that amount from customers after adjustments related, at least in part, to an accounting methodology. A storm reserve of $93.1 million would partially offset that total, leaving $200.7 million to be recovered because of Matthew, according to the utility’s proposal.

FPL also contends it is entitled to collect $117.1 million to replenish the storm reserve. Coupled with some relatively small additions for issues such as interest, the combined total sought from customers would be $318.5 million.

The Public Service Commission has the authority to review the costs and, ultimately, determine the amount that will be passed on to consumers. An online docket Tuesday morning did not include a schedule for considering the request.

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