Customers won big this month when Gulf Power, in a settlement of its proposed rate hike, pulled back on a requested huge increase in the fixed charge portion of customers’ bills. A big hike in the fixed charge would have unfairly penalized families that conserve and use less power and those that wish to use rooftop solar power. It would have also hit low and fixed income especially hard. The settlement was approved by the Florida Public Service Commission on April 4.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, along with League of Women Voters, challenged the fixed charge hike at the Florida Public Service Commission. If approved, it would have set a bad precedent for other power companies to attempt a similar fixed charge hikes.
Gulf Power wanted to increase the monthly fixed charge on its residential customers’ bills from the already high amount of about $18 to nearly $50. Gulf Power customers were very vocal in their opposition to the proposal, providing comment at public hearings in Panama City and Pensacola, as well as sending over 1,000 letters to the Public Service Commission.
“The voices of the citizens were instrumental in this decision. This shows that people are paying attention, getting educated on issues that affect them and speaking out,” said Pamela Goodman, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida.
“We are pleased to see Gulf Power withdraw the unprecedented fixed charge increase from their rate proposal” said Dr. Stephen Smith Executive Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “We firmly believe excessive fixed charges prevent consumers from being able to manage their bills with common sense actions like investments in energy efficiency and solar self generation. As rates continue to go up, consumers need the freedom and flexibility to control their cost while protecting the environment.”