Utility to seek rate hike at May 19 PSC hearing
By Carl Orth | The Suncoast News
If Progress Energy Florida gets an interim rate increase next week, West Pasco customers could see electric bills go up about $4 to $5 a month starting this summer.
At a May 19 hearing in Tallahassee, the Florida Public Service Commission will discuss granting the extra $76 million to Progress Energy Florida, according to information from the Florida Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers before the PSC.
The utility would like the price hike to go into effect July 1.
Most of the money would go toward paying for converting a Progress Energy power plant in Bartow from oil to natural gas, a company spokesman, Tim Leljedal, said. The changes will double the amount of electricity generated at the Polk County facility while cutting its emissions of sulfur dioxide, a greenhouse gas, by 98 percent, he said.
The increase, if approved, would be subject to a refund if the PSC later disapproves a permanent rate hike Progress Energy is requesting. The utility is seeking nearly $500 million more from customers, effective Jan. 1.
Progress Energy got a rate hike of nearly 25 percent in December 2008. After the increase sparked criticism from customers, however, Progress Energy Florida requested a rate reduction this spring, which roughly cut the rate hike in half.
The company passed along to customers the savings from lower fuel prices and deferred about half of the financing cost recovery fee to help build a new nuclear plant in Levy County.