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Corona Economics

TECO plans to pass $130M in fuel savings to customers to help offset coronavirus losses

Customers can expect to save about $90 June-December.

Tampa Electric Company, or TECO, is seeking to accelerate savings for customers to help mitigate financial hardship associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

The company is leveraging lower natural gas prices to pass significant savings to customers’s bills beginning in June.

Residents can expect to save nearly $90, or about 11%, on their energy bills for the rest of the year, depending on household consumptions. Commercial customers could see 14-20% savings.

“Unique times call for unique solutions to help our customers,” said Nancy Tower, president and CEO of Tampa Electric. “We look forward to working with the PSC, the Office of Public Counsel and other stakeholders to provide economic relief to our customers at a time when they need it most.”

The company filed updated projected fuel costs with the Florida Public Service Commission Thursday and made a request to accelerate the refund. Specific impact to customers’ bills won’t be determined until the PSC votes on the proposal on May 5. It would take effect June 1 and run through Dec. 31, if approved.

TECO claims customers’ bills are already among some of the lowest in Florida and more than 20% below the national average.

Currently, customers are paying $102.19 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy use, an average bill.

Nationally the average is $126.90, according to Energy Information Administration data.

Utilities adjust fuel costs annually, but typically don’t do so until January. TECO is accelerating that process to try to help customers lower bills as many Floridians face lost jobs or reduced pay due to business closures related to the COVID-19 crisis.

Utilities can request a speed-up of fuel cost adjustments early when prices are expected to change significantly mid-cycle.

Natural gas prices are expected to drop significantly, prompting the company to seek an early filing. They expect to pass on a total of $130 million in savings to customers.

TECO’s 2019 fuel mix included 84% natural gas with 4% solar, 6% coal and the remaining 6% from purchased power.

Residents currently spend about a fifth of their bill on fuel costs.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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