PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Florida Power and Light customers have been speaking out against a hike in power rates after struggling to pay their bills.

The Florida Public Service Commission is tasked with regulating electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater services across the state. The commission is run by five commissioners who are appointed by Florida’s governor and confirmed by the state senate.

News 13 reached out to the commissioners Thursday and they declined an interview request. They then sent us this statement.

“All electric utility rate case petitions before the Florida Public Service Commission are afforded a transparent process that involves months of discovery and review by all parties to the docket,” they wrote. “This information is then thoroughly vetted during a technical hearing, where all parties can question witnesses to the case.”

They added that the process includes hearings that allow FPL’s customers to comment.

“Customers can also let their voice be heard through customer service hearings — in this particular case, 12 hearings were held — or by writing to the Commission.  You can find all correspondence, including discovery and hearing transcripts, to this docket.”

They added that the rate hike was in the “public interest.”

“In this case, a Settlement Agreement was reached between the company, the Office of Public Counsel—who is charged with representing utility customers before the PSC—and other consumer parties to the case.  Therefore, OPC negotiated and supported the Agreement terms on behalf of FPL customers,” they wrote. “The Commission held a public hearing on the settlement agreement in September 2021.  Based on the evidence in the record, the Commissioners found the agreement to be in the public interest and approved the agreement.”

They also noted that the commission did not approve as high a rate hike as FPL wanted.

“The settlement agreement had the effect of reducing FPL’s proposed revenue increase from $1.1 billion to $692 million in 2022 and from $605 million to $560 million in 2023. The utility’s proposed return on equity midpoint was reduced from 11.5 to 10.6 percent,” they wrote. “Two appeals regarding this agreement have been filed at the Florida Supreme Court.”

If you want to contact the Florida Public Service Commission you can visit their website.