The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday approved Gulf Power Company’s request to track and record COVID-19 related costs. The accounting mechanism allows the utility to defer recovery of costs due to events beyond its control. Gulf Powers’s actual costs incurred and potential offsets will be reviewed by the Commission when the company seeks approval for cost recovery.
“With the pandemic’s uncertainty, Gulf Power anticipates its COVID-19 expenses will continue to increase due to higher write-offs for uncollectible accounts–the same scenario many utilities are facing–as well as safety-related costs,” said PSC Chairman Gary Clark. “All these costs will now be thoroughly tracked, including Gulf Power’s efforts to minimize costs, for Commission review before any potential future recovery is authorized.”
Gulf Power is required to file quarterly reports with the PSC on COVID-19 related costs incurred, any cost assistance received, and any cost savings realized. The first COVID-19 expense report is due on August 17, with an updated report due every month thereafter until Gulf Power files for cost recovery.
Gulf Power suspended customer disconnections in March as COVID-19 caused shutdowns and unemployment to rise. In its filing, Gulf Power said it received about $6 million less in April customer bill payments than normal. Safety-related costs are based on Gulf Power’s actual expenses to comply with recommendation’s outlined in the Centers for Disease Control and the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 guidance. These costs include monitoring the health of employees and contractors at power plants and other facilities, COVID-19 testing, and purchasing personal-protective equipment.
Gulf Power serves approximately 463,000 customers in Northwest Florida.