Public service commission approves post-hurricane Gulf Power rate hike

Posted on May 14, 2019 by Staff reports

Gulf Power today received unanimous approval from the Florida Public Service Commission to begin recovering costs of restoring power to more than 136,000 customers and rebuild the grid following unprecedented Hurricane Michael.

The FPSC approved a storm restoration surcharge of $8 per month beginning in July 2019 for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month. Even with this increase, Gulf Power customer bills remain lower than they were in January 2018. Commercial and industrial customers will see bills increase by 3-8% depending on the rate plan.

Over the last 18 months, the company has reduced the typical 1,000-kWh bill by more than $15 a month through proactively passing savings, such as fuel costs, to customers. In an effort to reduce the economic impact of Hurricane Michael restoration costs onto customers, the company received approval to spread the storm restoration surcharges over five years to ensure customers will continue to experience a significant portion of the savings delivered over the last year and a half.

“Hurricane Michael was the most destructive hurricane this region has ever seen, causing devastation that many in northwest Florida continue to recover from. We understand that restoring power following a major storm is a critical first step for the communities and customers that we serve,” said Marlene Santos, Gulf Power president. “The plan approved by the Florida Public Service Commission today recognizes those still recovering while ensuring we can continue to serve all of our customers with reliable service now and into the future.”

Gulf Power maintains a storm-recovery reserve to help offset expenses incurred after damages from storms like Hurricane Michael. For any expenses not covered by the storm-recovery reserve, Gulf Power must make a request before the FPSC. The Commission gave their initial approval today for Gulf Power to begin collecting the energy company’s prudent storm restoration expenses.

When restoring power and hope to storm-devastated communities like those seen in the wake of Hurricane Michael, the energy provider incurs all of the upfront costs of power restoration and rebuilding, including out-of-town crews, plus their housing, meals and transportation, security and more. Costs also include fuel for trucks, tree trimming, poles, transformers and power lines and many other materials.

“We are very grateful for the response displayed by Gulf Power in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael,” said Garrett Wright, vice president of the Bay Economic Development Alliance. “Our local economy would not be where it is today if the team at Gulf Power hadn’t been prepared and ready to respond so quickly and comprehensively.”

Mark Bowen, Chief of Emergency Services for Bay Bay County Board of County Commissioners, said the timely restoration of reliable power was critical to the physical and psychological recovery of the community.

“The short notice intensification of Hurricane Michael was an unwelcome and unprecedented surprise to many in Bay County,” Bowen said. “The timely restoration of power was, in contrast, a very pleasant surprise to a shell shocked community and likely saved many lives.”

The Edison Electric Institute presented Gulf Power with the association’s “Emergency Recovery Award” for its outstanding power restoration efforts after Hurricane Michael in October 2018.

Gulf Power crews continue to reconnect customers as they have their homes and businesses repaired and work to return the company’s smart grid back to pre-storm reliability.

“With hurricane season just around the corner, our entire Gulf Power team is tested and ready should we get another major storm this year,” said Santos. “We always hope for the best, but we prepare for the worst to ensure we are there to get the lights back on for our customers and the communities we serve.”

Gulf Power residential price changes (using 1,000 kWh)

January 2018 $144.00  
April 2018 $131.28 Decrease for corporate tax reform – the largest decrease in company history
January 2019 $128.86 Decrease for additional fuel, tax and clause savings
July 2019 $137.07 Increase for Hurricane Michael restoration surcharge


NOTE: Prices listed above include gross receipts tax but do not include credits, local taxes or fees that may be applicable in some jurisdictions.