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Duke Energy Florida files for recovery of costs associated with powerful Hurricane Dorian

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Coal,

Duke Energy Florida, which provides some of its 10 200 MW electric capacity from coal power to approximately 1.8 million customers in a 13 000 mi2 service area, has filed with the Florida Public Service Commission to recover costs related to the company's storm response to Hurricane Dorian, as well as the smaller Tropical Storm Nestor, both in 2019.

Storm costs are estimated to be US$171 million for Hurricane Dorian and US$400 000 for Tropical Storm Nestor.

Hurricane Dorian, which peaked as a Category 5 storm, initially was predicted to batter much of heavily populated Florida, potentially cutting electricity to millions of people.

Mobilising and strategically positioning a large number of power line repair crews prior to a major hurricane is critical to restoring power to impacted customers as quickly as possible after the storm.

In advance of Hurricane Dorian, 28 - 30 August, Duke Energy Florida deployed approximately 7800 employees and contractors to support power restoration work.

Residential customers will see an increase of US$5.34/1000 kWh of electricity on a typical monthly bill, starting in March 2020 and continuing for an additional 11 months.

Commercial and industrial customers will see an increase between 2.6% and 7.7%. However, the specific bill impact on individual businesses will vary, based on several factors.

The Florida Public Service Commission will review the costs and determine the final amount to be recovered in a subsequent proceeding next year.

Duke Energy Florida is already using a combined US$675 million in savings from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) to cover restoration costs for hurricanes Irma, Nate and Michael, and to replenish its hurricane reserve fund. This approach saves residential customers nearly US$12/1000 kWh of electricity on a typical monthly bill.

"We've seen an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events," said Catherine Stempien, Duke Energy Florida state president. "We're working hard to strengthen our electric grid while minimising impacts to customer bills."

Hurricane Dorian produced sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts over 200 mph when it made landfall in the Bahamas. The storm killed approximately 60 people in the Bahamas and caused an estimated US$7 billion in damage.

With Hurricane Dorian's 'cone of uncertainty' blanketing the entire state, Florida declared a state of emergency for all counties. Approximately 150 general and special needs shelters opened and 16 counties issued evacuation orders.

Although the eye of Hurricane Dorian came within 95 miles of Florida's heavily populated Atlantic coast, the state was spared the worst.

Sustained winds associated with the storm reached upwards of 60 miles per hour along Florida's Atlantic coastline, and tropical storm-force winds reached inland to Central Florida.

Hurricane Dorian ultimately cut power to about 24 000 Duke Energy Florida customers, most of them in Central Florida.

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