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Your FPL bill is going to go up even more in January than you thought

Sun Sentinel

By Ron Hurtibise

This article was originally published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on December 7, 2021.


Get ready for your electricity bill to increase by about $20 — and likely more — starting in January.

Florida Power & Light customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of power each month will pay an additional $6.82 a month beginning in January, following a fuel-cost adjustment approved Tuesday by the Florida Public Service Commission.

That increase, which enables the utility to recover higher costs of natural gas used to fuel power generation plants throughout the state, will be applied on top of a hefty increase approved in October as part of FPL’s four-year rate plan.

Under the four-year plan, the 1,000 kWh-an-hour customer was already on track to see monthly bills increase by 18% through 2025, with most of the price hike coming in 2022. FPL in October estimated that a 1,000 kWh monthly bill would increase from $101.70 in 2021 to $113.85 in 2022.

The fuel-cost adjustment approved Tuesday will increase that $113.85 bill by $6.82 to $120.67.

Customers who use more than 1,000 kWh a month will pay even higher increases.

Most FPL customers use more than 1,000 kWh a month, according to a South Florida Sun Sentinel analysis of financial data provided by public utilities to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which tracks energy prices and consumption for the federal government.

That data showed that the average Florida household consumed 1,169 kWh a month in 2020 and paid an average monthly bill of $122.07 in 2020.

FPL secured a fuel cost adjustment in September that was incorporated into FPL’s October projection that “typical” monthly bills would increase to $113.85. The newest fuel-cost adjustment was requested after the four-year plan was approved, FPL spokesman Christopher McGrath said.

“This is a further adjustment to reflect even higher natural gas costs” than estimated in September, he said.

Natural gas prices have increased sharply around the world in 2021, mirroring a trend similar to price hikes for crude oil and gasoline. In November, natural gas prices averaged $5.05 per million British thermal units, up from an average of $3.25 in the first half of 2021, the energy institute reported. Prices have declined slightly in recent weeks as mild November weather reduced natural gas demand in the U.S.

What happens over the next few months will depend on how cold the weather remains in northern states, the institute said in its most recent short-term energy outlook.

Natalia Brown, climate justice program manager for the social justice advocacy group Catalyst Miami, which opposed FPL’s four-year rate plan, said the fuel cost adjustment is an example of what consumers can expect from power companies that “continue to foster a reliance on fossil fuels.”

Catalyst Miami and several other advocacy groups opposed the four-year base rate plan, saying the $4.9 billion it will generate unfairly rewards FPL’s investor-owners while penalizing low-income consumers. Opponents also criticized earmarks for improvements to fossil-fuel-generated power plants, saying the company should be spending more on renewables.

Noting that solar generation accounts for just 5% of fuel used to generate electricity in Florida, Brown said in an emailed statement, “Electric utilities know that fossil fuel infrastructure is uneconomical and wholly unsustainable. FPL’s leadership makes conscious decisions to prioritize fuel sources that allow for their business model to accumulate decision-making power and profit, rather than embracing the readily available and beneficial alternatives that renewable energy sources represent for their customer base.”

In 2019, FPL announced plans to install more than 30 million solar panels by 2030, which would make solar 20% of its energy mix.

In a statement, McGrath said FPL has worked to improve fuel efficiency of its generating plants to make the company less vulnerable to fuel cost fluctuations.

“Through proven and disciplined long-term investments, we’ve improved the fuel efficiency of our power plant fleet nearly 30% since 2001 — saving customers $11 billion in fuel we simply haven’t needed to buy,” he said.


Ron Hurtibise covers business and consumer issues for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He can be reached by phone at 954-356-4071, on Twitter @ronhurtibise or by email at [email protected].


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