TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Some Florida customers who have Duke Energy for their electricity may have noticed a change to their bills this month. For customers who normally have a bill lower than $30, a new charge has been placed that raises the bill.
Beginning Jan. 1, Duke’s residential accounts, and “most non-demand” commercial and industrial customers received minimum monthly bills of $30. Regardless of whether the customer uses solar power, the minimum bill is coming due. Duke representatives said it’s to ensure high-quality service across Florida, and has nothing to do with any proposed legislation focused on net metering.
“We’re working to provide the best possible value for customers while keeping costs affordable. The minimum bill is essentially a minimum usage charge of $30 per month to ensure we are able to recover the costs necessary to serve our entire customer base across Florida with continued safe and reliable service,” Duke Energy said in a statement to 8 On Your Side.
According to a spokesperson for Duke Energy, the minimum bill is a new item for its Florida utility customers, but not a new concept. The company says it’s something many Florida utility companies are already doing, including Tampa Electric Company and Florida Power & Light.
Duke said their bill is actually lower than some of their competitors.
“Ensuring that all customers are contributing to the cost of having 24-hour access to a reliable Florida electric system is a shared concept. Approaches and cost allocations can vary. Where FPL and Gulf are implementing a minimum bill of $25 per month, TECO includes a minimum charge of $0.70/day or ~$21 per month,” Duke said in a statement. “This is a different concept than a minimum bill amount in that it is comparable to DEF’s $12.50 customer charge. The customer charge impacts all customers on a given rate regardless of usage while the minimum bill is only expected to affect a small percentage of customers.”
According to Duke, only a small set of their nearly two million Florida customers will be affected by the minimum bill policy. The company said most of their customers already pay bills higher than the $30 minimum.
A Duke spokesperson said about 80,000 customers will see a minimum bill charge. In total, Duke said 45,000 customers have roof top solar, and only a small portion of them would be affected by the policy. Solar customers will continue to receive retail rate payments for the solar energy produced at their homes through their solar panels.
While the minimum bill charge policy began on Jan. 1 this year, the Florida Public Service Commission had already reached a settlement agreement with the company to approve the change.
According to FPSC, the rate increase for Duke would only lead to “modest” increases of 1.1% to 1.7% over three years, with a 1.5%, 1.1% and 1.7% increase, year-by-year. The agreement was approved on June 4, 2021. The settlement documents, as approved, would only allow for the rate change through the “last billing cycle for December 2024,” though other provisions could potentially shorten or expand the period.
If customers have any questions, please Duke Energy Florida Customer Care can be reached at 800-700-8744.