Some power rates to drop

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Progress lowers 2013 fees

By Pat Faherty

Progress Energy Florida customers will see lower electricity bills this year, despite an increase in the nuclear cost recovery clause.

The monthly savings over 2012 will be about 6 percent on a 1,000 kilowatt-hour (kwh) residential bill from $123.19 to about $116.06, compared to $119.95 for customers of Sumter Electric Cooperative Inc.

“Multiple cost components make up the bill,” Progress Energy Florida spokesperson Suzanne Grant said. “They come before the PSC (Public Service Commission) each year for a hearing on what each component will cost.”

Elements of a household power bill include the customer charge, energy charge, fuel charge and gross receipts tax.

The customer charge is a fixed amount to cover the cost of providing service to the customer’s location, whether or not electricity is used.

The energy charge covers all the costs for producing electricity other than fuel; it includes a base rate that covers the costs associated with producing and delivering power. These costs include producing and distributing electricity, building and maintaining power plants, power lines and poles, substations, equipment, salaries and related costs.

Also under the energy charge are the costs of purchased power, energy conservation, energy conservation cost recovery and the nuclear cost recovery clause. The nuclear charge, the subject of considerable publicity last year, increased by $1.87 ($2.86 to $4.73) a month, according to Grant. The charge covers costs associated with the proposed Levy County nuclear plant and the Crystal River nuclear plant (CR3) project.

Recovery costs associated with CR3 are not connected with the plant’s repairs, instead they relate to costs incurred planning for increased capacity through major plant modifications. And a settlement reached last year limits cost recovery for the Levy plant through 2017, which Grant said will provide some rate stability.

Regardless, the nuclear charge remains a lightning rod for some legislators and groups such as the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which labels it “a nuclear tax.”

The monthly fuel charge, affected by the replacement power costs, went down about 50 cents.

Grant said the established costs usually remain in effect for the entire year, though if an increase of more than 10 percent is expected it has to go to the PSC.

Factored into the 2013 rates is the first half of a $258 million retail customer refund of replacement power costs associated with the Crystal River nuclear plant.

The second half of the refund is expected to hit in 2014.

Contact Chronicle reporter Pat Faherty at 352-564-2924 or pfaherty@chronicleonline.com.