FLORIDA: Electric Companies Now Charging a State Approved Estimated $12 Billion in ‘Storm Surcharges’ to Every Floridian

You may have noticed starting with your April-May power company electric bill a new charge entitled Storm Surcharge which varies based on the number of kWh of power you use. This is different from another state approved charge which you’ve been billed for entitled Storm Protection Charge which has occurred for much longer.

After waiting 38 mins* (starting approximately 9:20 am today) I finally got thru to a TECO Customer Service Agent to ask what the relatively new Storm Surcharge was about. The nice lady I talked with told me this was a new state approved charge to defray costs of hurricane damage to power company facilities, lines, transformers etc. by Hurricane Ian and was temporary e.g. would occur for 12 months (9 more to go).

I don’t know about you but I received no written notice from TECO explaining this new Storm Surcharge.

The Storm Protection Charge had previously been explained in writing under a page entitled Understanding Your Electric Charge and was defined as – “The cost of additional hardening efforts to further protect the power grid from hurricanes or other extreme weather events. (Note: Nothing about hardening against EMP events).

The very helpful TECO agent told me something else which was very disturbing along the lines of FL govt (I assume FL Dept of Financial Services – Division of Insurance but could be some other agency) was considering requiring every FL property owner be required to purchase flood insurance whether they live in a flood plane or not. I certainly hope this is not true as it would be very unfair for those of us who don’t live on the coasts or in other flood planes to bear the burden of bailing out those who do and suffer storm surges or other flood damage.

-If it turns out this is true then we tax paying property owners who don’t live in flood plains or flood prone areas should fight against this additional govt mandated expense.

*Note – the explanation for why I had to be on hole for so long was that electric company customers, especially the elderly have been inundated with scam calls often using power company phone numbers that they owe X ? on their electric bills and if they didn’t pay within 24 hours their power would be cut off and, link to send ? either by credit cards or with Bit Coins. This, in turn has led to many more phone calls to the power companies by customers. I was told they had reported this to LE agencies but nothing had been done to curtail these scams.

Storm Protection Plans: A Bonanza for Electric Utilities, a Bust for Consumers

Florida electric utilities’ storm protection plans will speed electricity restoration minimally, for very few customers, with dramatic rate increases for all. the plans are about utility profits, not storm protection. You still have time to take action!

AARP Florida has been closely following developments at the Public Service Commission (PSC) regarding Florida electric utilities’ Storm Protection Plans (SPPs). Florida’s for-profit monopoly utilities are using the opportunity and incentives provided by a recently-enacted SPP state law to make massive and largely ineffective investments in Florida’s electric grid. The plans anticipate rate increases of $18 to $29 per customer, per month by 2029, though there is no way to measure post-storm restoration performance, and no way to hold utilities accountable for proposed improvements.

On Aug. 10, in rubber-stamp hearings that were part of rushed regulatory proceedings, PSC commissioners unanimously approved the four utilities’ SPPs (Florida Power & Light (FPL), Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Company, and Gulf Power Company). AARP Florida members should know these facts:

  • AARP Florida estimates Florida electric customers will pay $40 billion for implementation of the plans by 2059, including an estimated $12 billion in profits for utilities.
  • All customers will subsidize a tiny few. Despite the SPPs massive size, few customers will experience shorter storm-related outages. For example, just 4 percent of FPL’s residential customers and 5 percent of Duke Energy’s customers will get their overhead powerlines undergrounded.
  • The SPPs are not strategic, and do not consider any modern options for reducing grid dependence, such as: solar, batteries, or a more decentralized electricity system.
  • None of the SPPs complied with the PSC’s own Rules (25-6-030) for such plans.

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