Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric rates could go down in June

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TECO power plant in Apollo Beach Florida burns coal and releases water vapor plus greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that contribute to climate change
TECO coal-burning power plant in Apollo Beach, Florida. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (Jan. 2010).

Customers of Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. should see monthly bills trimmed in June because of lower-than-expected natural gas costs, state Public Service Commission staff members have recommended.

Duke and Tampa Electric this month proposed passing along savings to customers because of reduced prices of natural gas, which plays a major role in fueling power plants.

Commission staff members last week issued recommendations that said the regulatory panel should approve the proposed bill reductions during a meeting May 7.

Duke proposed passing along a projected $233.5 million in fuel savings to customers over a year-long period that would start in June.

Similarly, Tampa Electric proposed passing along $137.9 million in savings.

The commission each fall sets projected fuel costs for the upcoming year.

But if the actual costs turn out to differ greatly from the projections, utilities can seek what is known as a “mid-course correction” — the type of proposal that Duke and Tampa Electric filed.

Natural gas prices have been volatile in recent years. When gas prices surge, increased costs are passed along to customers; when prices drop, customers get a break in their bills.

Utilities are not supposed to profit from fuel costs, which are considered a pass-through expense to customers.

The commission on April 2 approved reducing Florida Power & Light bills because of lower-than-expected fuel costs.

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