The information below was released Tuesday by Gulf Power:
Public Service Commission approves new customer rates for Gulf Power's largest-ever construction program
Today, the Florida Public Service Commission approved the settlement filed by Gulf Power and consumer representative groups to the case regarding Gulf Power's petition to increase base rates. The new customer rates will help pay for the largest power grid construction program in the history of the company.
Starting last year and continuing over the next three years, the company is building and replacing power lines and infrastructure — some more than 70 years old — to keep electricity flowing to its 430,000 customers. In addition, new lines and equipment are needed to comply with new mandatory federal environmental regulations. The formal request was filed in July.
"We're pleased with the PSC's decision because it will help us continue to deliver long-term, reliable service throughout Northwest Florida," said Stan Connally, Gulf Power President & CEO. "Our focus will continue to be on maintaining high reliability and high customer satisfaction. They are the heart of our business."
The residential bill in January 2014 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity is currently slated to be $127.94. That same bill will increase $4.06, an increase of about 3.2 percent. In addition, in January 2015, the price will increase an additional $2.42 per 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Originally, Gulf Power filed a request that would have increased the cost for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity $10.93 per month by the end of 2015.
"There's never a good time to raise prices — but we are obligated to serve our customers with electricity when and where they need it," Connally said. "This investment is necessary to maintain high reliability, as well as meet new mandatory federal environmental regulations."
Another significant part of this settlement includes new job creation incentives. These incentives will reduce the amount the business pays for electricity by a certain percentage for four years if the business meets certain eligibility requirements.
"Some businesses could apply for incentives for relocating to Northwest Florida or for expanding their existing business in Northwest Florida," said Connally. "This is another important element in the growing portfolio of economic development programs and activities Gulf Power can use to help draw businesses and jobs to the region."
Examples of Gulf Power Infrastructure Investment:
1. Substations are being added and improved to continue to provide reliable service to our customers. In Pensacola, a substation on Devilliers Street has been rebuilt. On Allison Avenue in Panama City, a new substation has been built.
2. Seventy miles of 70-year-old transmission line is being rebuilt from Panama City to Holmes County.
3. An existing transmission line between Highland City and Holmes Creek substations in the Panama City area is being upgraded to maintain reliability for our customers.
4. A new 38-mile line is being added that begins in the Pensacola area and goes to the Florida-Alabama state line. This project is necessary for mandatory federal environmental compliance.
Gulf Power Company is an investor-owned electric utility with all of its common stock owned by Atlanta-based Southern Company. Gulf Power serves more than 430,000 customers in eight counties throughout Northwest Florida. The company's mission is to safely provide exceptional customer value by delivering reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity while strengthening our communities. Visit online at GulfPower.com or on the company's Facebook page, "Gulf Power Company."
Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning Gulf Power Company's construction program, infrastructure investment, and economic growth. Gulf Power Company cautions that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Gulf Power Company; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Gulf Power Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012, and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: state and federal rate regulations and the impact of pending and future rate cases and negotiations, including rate actions relating to the Florida Public Service Commission's review of Gulf Power Company's filing to increase retail base rates and the related settlement; the impact of recent and future federal and state regulatory changes, environmental laws, and also changes in tax and other laws and regulations to which Gulf Power Company is subject, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; ability to control costs and avoid cost overruns during the development and construction of facilities; the ability of counterparties of Gulf Power Company to make payments as and when due and to perform as required; catastrophic events such as fires, earthquakes, explosions, floods, hurricanes, droughts, pandemic health events such as influenzas, or other similar occurrences; and the direct or indirect effects on Gulf Power Company's business resulting from incidents affecting the U.S. electric grid or operation of generating resources. Gulf Power Company expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking information.