Florida PSC approves two utilities COVID-19 cost tracking

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TALLAHASSEE — On Oct. 6, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Florida Public Utilities Companies’ (FPUC) and Utilities Inc. of Florida’s (UIF) separate requests to track and record COVID-19 related costs. The accounting mechanism allows the utilities to defer recovery of certain costs due to events beyond their control and seek potential recovery through rates at a later time.

FPUC’s and UIF’s actual costs incurred and potential offsets will be reviewed by the Commission when the Companies seek approval for cost recovery. The PSC recently approved similar regulatory assets for Gulf Power Company (Gulf) and Peoples Gas System (PGS).

“Financially stable utilities are critical to our modern day life, and the Commission is acting to ensure Florida utilities continue to provide safe and reliable service through and after COVID-19,” said PSC Chairman Gary Clark. “The PSC will make sure the utilities’ costs are thoroughly tracked and will consider whether their request for recovery of these assets is reasonable in a future proceeding before any recovery is authorized.”

Both FPUC and UIF are required to file monthly reports with the PSC on COVID-19 related costs incurred, any cost assistance received, and any cost savings realized. The first set of COVID-19 expense reports is due on Dec. 1, and every month thereafter until the companies file for potential cost recovery.

Florida Public Utilities Company
FPUC’s petition was filed by its “Companies,” including Florida Public Utilities Company, Florida Public Utilities Company – Indiantown Division, Florida Public Utilities Company – Fort Meade, and Florida Public Utilities Company – Electric Division, as well as the Florida Division of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation.
Since the start of COVID-19, the Companies’ report uncollected accounts of 61 days or more are approximately 243%, or $1.2 million higher than normal levels.

FPUC and the Florida Division of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation distribute natural gas to approximately 83,000 customers. FPUC also distributes electricity to approximately 32,000 customers across two divisions.

Utilities Inc. of Florida reports it is receiving approximately $39,045 less in monthly customer payments. UIF also reports it has incurred additional costs to preserve the health and safety of its employees, contractors, and customers. Included in safety-related costs: monitoring the health of employees and contractors at its facilities and adding signage on buildings to encourage COVID-related safety protocols.
UIF serves approximately 36,000 water customers and 33,000 wastewater customers in 10 Florida counties.

Commission Orders on Gulf, PGS Regulatory Asset Approval to be Reissued
Also today, Oct. 6, the Commission voted to vacate its procedural orders approving establishment of a regulatory asset for Gulf and for PGS. The Office of Public Counsel (OPC) requested a motion to reconsider the PSC’s decisions, saying the Commission overlooked a point of law affecting notice and the point of entry for a substantially affected person.
On Oct. 6, the Commission agreed to vacate both procedural orders and reissue them as proposed agency action (PAA) orders. Both PSC orders being issued as PAA now offers substantially affected persons the ability to contest the appropriateness of the regulatory asset itself.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.
Follow the PSC on Twitter, @floridapsc.

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