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Gulf Power asks to delay storm restoration surcharge

The new filing asks for the $8-per-month surcharge to start in July.

Gulf Power is looking to delay its plan to collect storm recovery costs from its customers according to new request filed with the Public Service Commission.

The Panhandle utility company, which was recently acquired by NextEra Energy, suffered catastrophic damage due to Hurricane Michael.

Gulf Power originally asked the PSC to approve a plan to allow it to start collecting storm damage costs from ratepayers in April. The new filing requests that collections start in July.

The plan would see the company recoup $342 million from customers over five years.

When Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm last year, it knocked about a quarter of Gulf Power’s 457,000-plus customers off the grid, causing more than $340 million in damages to the company’s power infrastructure.

Thanks to the around-the-clock work of a platoon of lineworkers and power pros from around the country, the company was able to beat its own estimates for restoring service to 95 percent of its customers who could safely receive power.

The restoration effort required Gulf Power to rebuild much of its infrastructure, especially in Bay County, which was the hardest hit by the storm.

When Gulf Power first announced its plan to tack an $8 storm restoration surcharge onto the monthly bills of its residential customers, it noted that the average customer’s bill would still be lower than it was in January 2018.

It said commercial and industrial customers could expect their bills to go up between 3 and 8 percent.

The storm restoration surcharge announcement also said the company would be passing along its savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to customers.

Gulf Power said that rate cut would to lower monthly utility bills for the average residential customer by 2 percent, or about $2.70 a month.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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