JUNO BEACH — On Dec. 1, The Florida Public Service Commission approved Florida Power & Light Company’s new program to offer credits to qualifying small businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The FPL Main Street Recovery Credit Program is the latest of several programs that the company initiated to show its steadfast support of adversely impacted customers during the global pandemic.
Establishments in FPL’s service area that are eligible to apply for the program include:
• New small businesses
• Small businesses that were inactive for at least six months in 2020
• Existing small businesses operating in federal Opportunity Zones in FPL’s service area
Qualifying small businesses would receive a monthly 10% credit on the energy charge portion of their electric bill for the duration of the program. The company will implement the FPL Main Street Recovery Credit Program for qualifying small businesses in January and offer bill credits through the end of 2021.
Recent studies showed the toll the pandemic has taken on the state’s 2.7 million small businesses. Florida ranks fourth in the nation for business closures with 5,300 permanent closures and 3,300 temporary closures, according to a Yelp economic report. A recent survey of more than 4,800 Florida small businesses conducted by the Florida Chamber Foundation found that:
“Despite COVID-19’s unpredictability and disruptiveness, one thing remains clear — we are always committed to finding innovative ways to help our customers,” said FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy. “We appreciate the Florida Public Service Commission’s quick and thorough review and approval of this new initiative to help our small businesses and independent stores that make up the fabric of our communities. This program is one more way FPL is helping to rebuild our economy and move Florida forward.”
Interested businesses can apply for the program on FPL’s website, www.FPL.com, beginning next month.
Unwavering commitment to supporting customers
FPL’s approved plan to assist small businesses is another example of direct relief that the company is providing customers in response to COVID-19, including those customers significantly behind on their bills.
Last month, FPL announced it donated $15 million to help approximately 55,000 residential customers who receive federal assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or the Emergency Home Energy Assistance for the Elderly Program (EHEAP). These customers will receive credits on their monthly electric bill through December 2021.
In mid-March, FPL immediately began offering payment extensions and waiving late fees for customers experiencing hardship due to the pandemic, policies that remain in effect. During that time, the company also suspended disconnections for nonpayment and continued doing so for more than six months. Through a careful and measured approach, FPL resumed issuing final notices in September. To date, approximately 75% of customers who have received a final notice and passed their due date for payment have worked with FPL to make a payment arrangement and avoid disconnection for nonpayment. For those customers who were disconnected, more than 80% were reconnected within 24 hours following payment of their past due balance.
Since September, FPL issued more than $15 million in bill credits to more than 112,000 residential and small business customers based on the status of their account and how long the account has been past due. Additionally, the FPSC unanimously approved FPL’s plan to accelerate deposit refunds to eligible residential customers who have paid on time and in full for the last 12 months. The company is also planning to accelerate deposit refunds to eligible small business customers.
FPL continues to offer a range of relief options for all customers struggling with their electric bills due to COVID-19, including direct credits, payment extensions and waived fees for customers expressing hardship.
Governmental assistance funding remains available for Floridians who need help paying their utility bills.