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FPL faces high fuel costs, but won't pass along the increase to customers

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File Photo
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Miami Herald

Florida Power & Light on Friday became the second utility to notify state regulators that it continues to face higher-than-expected costs for natural gas.

But FPL, in a filing at the state Public Service Commission, said it would not seek what is known as a “mid-course correction,” which could have led to passing along the increased costs to customers in the coming months.

“Because both domestic conditions and recent international events have sharply impacted the natural gas market, FPL believes filing a petition for mid-course correction at this time is not practical,” the filing said. “Instead, it is more appropriate to continue to monitor the market to determine whether the impact of these conditions will moderate, such that a future fuel forecast may mitigate the projected fuel costs to be recovered for the period.”

Duke Energy Florida made a similar filing last month. Duke did not seek approval to pass on more fuel costs to customers, but it left open the possibility of making such a request later.

Each year, the Public Service Commission sets the amounts that utilities can collect for fuel in the following year. But if costs are higher than expected, utilities can seek mid-course corrections that allow them to increase the amounts that customers pay. Utilities pass along fuel costs to consumers and are not supposed to earn profits on them.

Florida utilities, which rely heavily on natural gas to fuel power plants, have grappled for months with high gas prices.

The Public Service Commission in December approved allowing FPL to collect an additional $810 million from customers this year because gas prices topped projections. Similarly, the commission on Feb. 1 approved allowing Duke to collect an additional $314 million from customers, with the change taking effect in March.