Florida Supreme Court: Duke Energy customers must pay $7.2 million after a power plant outage

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A sign at a pro-solar rally at Duke Energy in 2014. By Janelle Irwin / WMNF News.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an attempt to overturn a decision by state regulators that called for Duke Energy Florida customers to pay $7.2 million related to an outage at a power plant.

The state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, challenged the decision by the Florida Public Service Commission.

The case involved a 2020 outage at Duke’s Crystal River Unit 4 power plant that forced the utility to buy what is known as replacement power, according to court documents.

Duke sought to collect $14.4 million from customers to cover the replacement-power costs, but the Office of Public Counsel and representatives of business customers objected, arguing that Duke had mishandled the situation.

The Public Service Commission in 2021 decided that Duke should be responsible for half of the costs, with the other half paid by customers.

That prompted the Office of Public Counsel to go to the Supreme Court, arguing that regulators had not properly weighed Duke’s responsibility.

But in Thursday’s ruling, the Supreme Court said the Office of Public Counsel “did not properly preserve its legal challenges” in the case.

That conclusion, in part, involved the office appealing to the Supreme Court without first getting a ruling from the Public Service Commission on a motion for reconsideration of the $7.2 million decision.

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