The list of Florida public power utilities that are proactively taking steps to offer financial assistance to their customers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow.
The Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) on April 23 reported that twenty-one public power utilities in Florida have now announced plans to reduce electric bills to help customers cope with the ongoing pandemic. Combined, these 21 utilities serve more than 3.5 million Floridians, who will benefit from approximately $60 million in savings over the next several months.
“People are facing financial challenges due to the pandemic,” said Jacob Williams, General Manager and CEO of the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), an Orlando-based wholesale power supplier. “We recognize this issue and are working with our member utilities to help them evaluate options for keeping money in the pockets of their customers.”
Cities and utilities that have announced plans include: Alachua, Beaches Energy Services (Jacksonville Beach), Bushnell, Clewiston, Fort Pierce Utilities Authority, Fort Meade, Gainesville Regional Utilities, Green Cove Springs, Homestead Public Services, JEA (Jacksonville), Keys Energy Services (Key West), Kissimmee Utility Authority, Lakeland Electric, Leesburg, Mount Dora, Newberry, Ocala, Orlando Utilities Commission, Starke, Tallahassee and Winter Park.
Other public power utilities in Florida are also considering short-term reductions, including Bartow and New Smyrna Beach.
Not all cities will be able to reduce rates due to various financial situations, FMPA noted.
Most power generation in Florida is fueled by natural gas, and the price of natural gas is at long-time lows, like gasoline. The lower-than-expected fuel prices creates savings that can be passed along to customers.
Many cities that plan to reduce bills purchase their wholesale power from FMPA. The agency’s power costs have been coming down for years and are now lower than they have been since 2004. In addition, FMPA’s fuel costs have declined in 2020, so the agency expects its power costs to be lower than projected.
“With low power costs and low natural gas prices, many of FMPA’s cities are in a position to bring the savings forward to customers now,” said Williams. “We are happy to partner with the utilities to help their customers during this time.”