2014 to bring higher power bills

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Special to the Citizen

Residential customers of Duke Energy Florida and Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative will be paying more for power starting in January.

After enjoying an average 6 percent rate decrease for 2013, household power costs for Duke customers will be going up about 8 percent in 2014.

In November, the Florida Public Service Commission set recovery charges for Duke and three other investor-owned utilities. The new rates take effect January.

In its announcement, the PSC explained that, by state statute and commission policy, utilities may recover certain expenses from customers. The expenses are adjusted annually. Duke may recover its costs for fuel and purchased power and meeting conservation and environmental requirements.

Environmental requirement costs include environmental controls at two coal units at the Crystal River Energy Complex and the conversion of the Anclote Power Plant from oil to cleaner-burning natural gas.

According to the PSC, the majority of charges are related to fuel and included in the  fuel charge on customers’ bills.

Other approved charges are included in the energy charge, $40.77, which also covers Duke’s base rate charge and PSC-approved nuclear cost recovery charges of $16.44. A household power bill also includes the customer charge and gross receipts tax.

While fuel is one of largest power bill components, by law the company cannot make any profit off that part of the bill. The PSC approval included Duke’s recovery of about $33 million of unrecovered fuel costs for 2013.

A Duke residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month is currently paying $116.06. Starting in January, this will increase to $125.20, a $9.23 change.

Duke spokesman Sterling Ivy confirmed the 2014 rate, which is slightly higher than the company-projected $8.24 announced in August.

Customers of Withlacoochee Electric Cooperative can also expect a rate hike in January. According to the utility’s website, the residential rate based on 1,000 kilowatt hours will be $123.68, an increase of $3.70 from the current rate of $119.98.

Contact Chronicle reporter Pat Faherty at 352-564-2924 or pfaherty@chronicleonline.com.