Florida’s utility regulator has approved rate increases for Gulf Power customers. The money will go to reimburse the company for power restoration efforts following Hurricane Michael.
North Florida industry groups and local officials backed the increase.
“I can assure you, power was coming on 4,5,6 days after the storm. In a very rural area, 600 miles of dirt roads, trees everywhere, they were there. And they were picking up the pieces," Washington County Chamber of Commerce Director Ted Everett told the Florida Public Service Commission.
Gulf Power has some 460,000 customers across eight Northwest Florida counties. Consumers will see their monthly bills increase by $8 per thousand kilowatt hours.
“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 in a statement released by the company after the decision.
“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.”
The rate will be in effect for the next five years and begins in June. The company is expected to recoup $342 million and says it expects bills for customers to still be lower than they were in January 2018. Gulf's service area includes Escambia, Bay, Washington, Gulf, Santa Rosa and part of Jackson County.