TAMPA, FL. – Florida electric utilities continue to get hammered by high natural-gas prices. Tampa Electric Co. notified state regulators Thursday it is facing higher-than-expected fuel costs, though it did not file a proposal to quickly pass along the costs to customers.
Each year, the Florida Public Service Commission sets the amounts that utilities can collect for power-plant fuel in the following year. But if costs are higher than expected, utilities can seek what are known as “mid-course corrections” that allow them to increase the amounts that customers pay.
The commission in recent months has approved mid-course corrections for Tampa Electric, Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light. That has resulted, for example, in Tampa Electric customers seeing increased bills this month to cover fuel costs.
But even with the mid-course corrections, the three utilities have filed notices saying that they continue to face higher-than-expected natural gas costs. “Since March 29th, fuel prices have continued to escalate,” Thursday’s Tampa Electric notice said. “Due to the current volatility in the natural gas market, the company will continue to monitor fuel prices in the hope that market prices will return to lower levels and mitigate the impact of a mid-course correction on customer bills.”
Duke and FPL also have not proposed additional mid-course corrections. Utilities are supposed to pass through fuel costs to customers without making a profit.