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Gulf Power, which provides electric service to nearly a half-million customers in eight Northwest Florida counties, has filed a plan with the Florida Public Service Commission to add a storm restoration surcharge to electricity bills to recover $342 million in costs associated with power restoration following Hurricane Michael. According to a Wednesday news release, Gulf Power is proposing an $8 per month surcharge (actually $8.21, according to the utility’s figures) for residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, average monthly household electrical consumption in Florida is 1,123 kilowatt-hours. For residential customers, the surcharge would “keep Gulf Power customer bills lower than January 2018,” according to the news release. At that time, the monthly Gulf Power bill for 1,000 kilowatt-hours of residential electricity was $144, including the state’s 2.5 percent utility tax. Monthly bills dropped to $131.28 in April 2018 as the result of federal corporate tax reform. Bills dropped by more than two dollars, to $128.86, in January of this year, due to continuing tax reform savings and other factors. If the FPSC approves the Gulf Power plan, the bill for 1,000 kilowatt-hours of residential electricity will rise to $137.07 in April, according to the Gulf Power news release. In addition to the residential surcharge, Gulf Power’s proposal would boost bills for commercial and industrial customers by 3 percent to 8 percent each month. According to the news release, Gulf Power “proposes to spread the storm restoration surcharges over five years,” contending that doing so will ensure that customers “will continue to experience a significant portion of the savings delivered over the last year.” Thus, the surcharge, if approved by the FPSC, will appear on Gulf Power customer’s bills for five years, utility spokesman Rick Delahaya confirmed Wednesday.

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