Florida Power & Light Co. says residential customers will see monthly electric bills fall by an average of $3.86 starting in January.
FPL, the state’s largest utility, said Thursday that the price of 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity will fall to $96.04 in 2020, down from $99.90 this year.
FPL and other utilities have benefited from plummeting price of natural gas, a key energy source for power plants. The utility also says it’s reaping rewards from its investments in solar.
“Our long-term investments in state-of-the-art clean energy centers and in zero-emissions solar energy are helping to lower fuel costs and customer bills,” FPL President and Chief Executive Eric Silagy said in a statement. “We are focused on continuing to find innovative ways to save our customers money while providing industry-leading reliability.”
Natural-gas futures traded this week at $2.319, almost 40 percent below December 2018 levels. That trend, a result of the U.S. shale boom, is allowing utilities throughout Florida to reduce rates, said Public Counsel J.R. Kelly, the state’s independent advocate for utility customers.
“The price of natural gas is decreasing, and for customers, that’s good,“ Kelly said. ”What that means is (utilities) are all forecasting the price of natural gas to be less next year than it was this year.“
FPL stressed that its electricity prices remain far below national averages. The typical U.S. ratepayer spent more than $130 a month on 1,000 kilowatt hours of power this year, FPL said.
Meanwhile, FPL said it won’t pass on to ratepayers any of the costs of mobilizing for Hurricane Dorian. As the Category 5 storm threatened Florida in early September, FPL amassed a force of 17,000 workers to restore power.
Even though Dorian delivered only a glancing blow to Florida, FPL still spent $270 million to prepare for and recover from the monster storm.
Had FPL passed on those costs to its 5 million customers, ratepayers would have paid an average of $54 apiece for Dorian.
“I am happy they’re not going to seek any increase from ratepayers,” Kelly said. “At the same time, they are earning a hefty, hefty return, so they have the ability to absorb it.“
FPL is a unit of NextEra Energy of Juno Beach. NextEra (NYSE: NEE), the largest company headquartered in Palm Beach County, is the most valuable utility in the U.S. by a wide margin.