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AARP lobbies for you

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By The Staff

Floridians served by Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy can breathe a sigh of relief. Regulators clearly understood the tough realities of balancing a family budget, during this time of severe economic distress for many Floridians and rejected increase proposals by the state’s two largest utility providers.

 The rulings by the Florida Public Service Commission scaled back proposed increases of more than 30 percent in base rates. Instead, the Commission’s rulings will mean a real rate reduction of approximately $15 per month for a household using about 1,000 kilowatts of power for FPL users. 

 Though the PSC approved a small rate increase in 2010 for Florida Power & Light totaling about $75 million – an increase of about 75 cents per month for a consumer using 1,000 kilowatts of power – regulators rejected more than 99 percent of the original FPL rate request.  FPL consumers also will see fuel-related charges dropped because of falling fuel costs, resulting in an overall reduction in utilities rates.  FPL consumers will see no rate increase in 2011. 

 Progress Energy customers will see no base rate increase at all as a result of the PSC’s rulings Jan. 11. 

 The PSC’s rulings still leave Florida utilities with a rate of return on equity far greater than many Florida businesses are now experiencing.  FPL can reap a 10-percent rate of return on equity, while Progress Energy can get 10.5-percent rate of return.   

 AARP Florida and its volunteer advocates worked for nearly a year, attending hearings, making phone calls, writing letters to the editor and columns urging regulators to reject the proposed rate hike.  The Florida Office of Public Counsel also provided exemplary work that helped illuminate the underlying issues in the rate case. 

We know it won’t be long before FP&L and Progress Energy are back asking for another rate increase. AARP Florida will continue to advocate that Florida consumers bear no more than their fair and reasonable share of utility costs.

Lori Parham is the state director of AARP.