Gulf Power customers could see storm recovery surcharge on bills

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Gulf Power users could see a surcharge each month if a proposal to offset Hurricane Michael recovery costs gets approved.

Wednesday, Gulf Power announced it filed a primary plan with the Florida Public Service Commission. Gulf Power says it is looking to recover $342 million.

In this plan, Gulf Power says it would offset the costs of restoring power to more than 136,000 customers and rebuilding the grid after Hurricane Michael. To do that, the company proposed a storm restoration surcharge of about $8 a month for people using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month. Commercial and industrial customers of Gulf Power will see their bills increase between three and eight percent a month, depending on the rate plan.

Also part of the plan; Gulf Power proposed to spread the storm surcharge over a five-year period. They say it will reduce the economic impact of Hurricane Michael restoration costs on customers.

Some of the costs the company incurred during the hurricane were taking care of out-of-town crews and buying materials to rebuild infrastructure. Gulf Power does have a storm recovery reserve to offset expenses, but any expense not covered by the reserve must be submitted in a request to the Florida Public Commission. The Commission will decide the best mode of recovery.

“Restoring power is the critical first step for communities and customers to begin the road to recovery. It means that people can begin repairing homes and businesses, getting back to school and work and rebuilding their lives as they create a new normal to move the community forward,” Marlene Santos, Gulf Power President said. “We never want to increase rates and it is helpful that Gulf Power has significantly lowered rates over the past year, which will relieve some of the impact from this storm restoration surcharge.”