ORLANDO, Fla. – If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of Duke Energy customers in Central Florida you've probably noticed your bill went down last month.
- Duke Energy looking to raise rates in Florida
- Company says its to recover losses from Hurricane Dorian
- Duke’s storm cost recovery is still under review
But it will soon be going up.
Katherine Gonzalez is one of those customers. She said will never forget coming from the hospital with a newborn to a home with no power thanks to Hurricane Irma.
“When you look at your kids it’s like what are you going to do? How can I keep them safe?” Gonzalez said.
She says it was extremely difficult to get any kind of a response then from Duke Energy, which had over a million customers in the state who lost power. She was less than thrilled to hear that after seeing a significant drop in their power bill it’ll be going back up in March.
“I think it’s absurd they would even raise our bills by even 50 cents,” Gonzalez said.
The rate for a thousand kilowatts of power for Duke Energy was about $128 ($128.68) in December. This month it went down by about $4 to about $124 ($123.99).
But in March it’ll go up to $129 ($129.32).
Duke said it’s to recover losses from Hurricane Dorian.
Gonzalez finds that confusing.
“Because all we got was regular rain, and Florida receives rain all the time,” Gonzalez said.
But a spokesperson for Duke Energy, Ana Gibbs, said the company spent about $170 million to prepare for the storm.
“We have to be ready and in place to respond, ahead of the storm, like I mentioned we can’t wait until the storm hits or after the fact,” Gibbs said.
But Gonzales said being in Florida, Duke should have money ready for big storms already.
“We shouldn’t have to pay for you guys getting prepared that’s what you’re supposed to be doing,” Gonzales said.
Gibbs said Duke did have a hurricane fund of around $100 million, but it was used up on Irma.
Around $675 million in tax savings from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act helped pay for hurricanes Irma and Michael, leaving Duke with no hurricane fund for Dorian preparations.
“We had not had storms like this in several years, and then all of a sudden we started having back to back storms that were really severe,” Gibbs said.
But Gonzales said they and a lot of families have not financially recovered from the storm that marked her son’s birth.
“Forget Dorian, we’re still recuperating Irma, so maybe they should think about giving us a dollar less on our bills,” Gonzales said.
And even though the bill is only going up by $1 compared to December’s bill, Gonzales said for her family, every dollar counts.
Duke’s storm cost recovery is still under review by the Florida Public Service Commission.