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Gulf Power Plan Eases Hurricane Cost Recovery


Monday, February 27, 2006, Gulf Power Company has filed an innovative plan with the Florida Public Service Commission that will allow the utility to recover more than $137 million in hurricane-related damages, while lowering the current price for electricity.

Gulf Power was granted a $2.71 per 1,000 kilowatt-hour surcharge last March to recover Hurricane Ivan damages over two years, but the electric utility has since suffered damages from hurricanes Dennis and Katrina, plus the company’s storm damage reserve fund – which was at $28 million before Ivan – has been totally depleted.

Under the proposed plan, Gulf Power would extend the collection period from two years to eight years, ending in August 2014, and reduce the current surcharge from $2.71 to $1.93.

“Our goal is to minimize the tremendous impact of these hurricanes on our customers,” John Hutchinson, Gulf Power’s General Manager of Public Affairs, said. “This proposal allows us to issue bonds that will reduce the overall price of electricity by extending the payment period. Even though that means it will take us longer to pay off the debt, we think this plan is more beneficial overall.”

Hurricane Ivan knocked out power to more than 90 percent of Gulf Power’s customers and caused a total of more than $137 million in damages to the electric system. Hurricane Dennis left 60 percent of the utility’s customers in the dark and cost more than $59 million. Katrina, which sideswiped Northwest Florida, left 30 percent of the company’s customers out of service and did more than $4 million in damages.

“It’s also important to note that we are not asking to recoup all of our storm costs,” Hutchinson said. “There is still about $54 million in damages from all three storms that are we are not seeking to recover in this filing.”

Hutchinson said the $137 million includes $13 million in remaining Ivan costs, $54 million for damages from hurricanes Dennis and Katrina and $70 million to replenish the company’s storm reserve.

“This plan helps us recover slowly and reduces the burden on our customers as well,” Hutchinson said. “Our prices today are the lowest in the state among the major utilities and this proposal will make our prices even lower.”

A decision by the FPSC is expected in June.


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