Hurricane Irma was the most destructive storm to ever hit Duke Energy's coverage area, and that's why the company says it needs add a storm recovery fee to customer bills.
- Duke Energy to seek a Hurricane Irma recovery fee from customers
- Fee will be a monthly charge on bills for a 3-year period
- Duke Energy says Irma was most destructive storm to hit its coverage area
The utility company will file for the fee with the Florida Public Service Commission, which will decide whether to allow the fee.
A Duke Energy spokesperson says as of right now the fee will be about $5 a month on a typical bill, but that could change by the time the official filing happens.
If approved, the fee would be on customer bills for a three-year period.
That Hurricane Irma was a historically destructive storm is not in dispute. Damage estimates are in the billions of dollars.
Duke Energy says 1.3 million of its 1.8 million customers experienced power outages in Florida because of Irma. Some of those people spent over a week without power.
Duke sent out more than 12,000 line and field workers to restore power, in some cases requiring rebuilding parts of the system.
"It was a massive effort that required us to bring in a small army," said AnnMarie Varga, a Duke Energy spokesperson. "So it was a massive storm that required a significant effort across the southeast region."
But Duke Energy was criticized for its recovery efforts by customers and state officials, particularly with the lack of communication and failure to restore power in the time periods promised.
At the time Duke Energy officials issued apologies to customers and officials, saying they did not live up to customer expectations and they would be looking at the lessons learned from Irma moving forward.
That likely will be part of the discussion over approving the fee in the Florida Public Service Commission.
Duke Energy says this is the first storm recovery fee it has sought since the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005.
Florida Power and Light is also seeking a $4 monthly surcharge to recoup costs from Hurricane Irma.