AARP Florida is calling the latest Florida Public Service Commission rate hike request misleading and unfair.
Florida Power & Light has asked the Florida Public Service Commission to OK a $690 million rate increase.
The Florida Public Service Commission held a public hearing on the request at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Lee County Education Center Board Room, School Board of Lee County, 2855 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers.
"To justify its request, FPL is using math that many consumers may find confusing, in an attempt to convince them that their utility bills will only increase a couple of dollars per month," said the AARP in a press release Tuesday.
AARP spokespersons Tess Canja and Bill Clark attended the public meeting as residents during the only public input opportunity on the proposed rate increase.
FPL's typical 1,000-kilowatt residential customer bill, now $94.62, is the lowest of the state's 55 electric companies, the power company said. In 2013, with a projected total typical bill of $96.03, FPL would continue to be the lowest in Florida, according to FPL officials.
FPL base rates have not increased since 2010.
"We understand that there is never a good time for an increase, but our investments in natural gas and other innovative technologies along with our continuous focus on operating efficiently, have kept our typical residential customer bills the lowest in Florida and our reliability among the best nationally," said FPL President Eric Silagy in a press release. "We believe this disciplined, clean-energy approach will help keep service strong and bills low for years to come"
The proposed rate hike will add about $7 a month to the average consumer bill every month, according to the FPL. The AARP maintains the FPL bills will increase 20 percent more per customer.
"FPL's math mixes the impact of lower rates from lower natural-gas fuel costs with their proposed rate increase, which makes the rate increase seem smaller," said Kathy Marma, AARP Florida associate manager. "Also, this 'average' increase was calculated on 1,000 kilowatts per month, however, most FPL customers use an average of 1,200 kilowatts per month so their increase would be even greater."
The AARP maintains Florida consumers, specifically seniors living on a fixed income, would find it troubling to know that FPL is asking for rates to increase revenue and give shareholders returns of more than 11 percent at a time when most Florida consumers receive interest return rates no higher than 2 percent on investments.
"The extra costs represent an unfair burden on all state consumers, especially older Floridians," Marma said.