Duke Energy Florida has filed a revised settlement agreement with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) that includes plans to bolster solar power, energy storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging in the state while also scrapping a nuclear power project.
The settlement agreement was developed with representatives of several consumer groups, including the state’s Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, the Florida Retail Federation, White Springs Agricultural Chemicals Inc. d/b/a PCS Phosphate, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
According to Duke Energy Florida, the comprehensive agreement also includes investments in smart meters, grid modernization projects and optional billing programs. In addition, the utility says it will officially no longer move forward with building the Levy Nuclear Project, and customers will not pay any further costs associated with the project. (Notably, sister utility Duke Energy Carolinas recently requested permission from North Carolina regulators to cancel a separate nuclear power project.)
“This settlement allows us to move forward to create a smarter energy future for our customers and communities,” says Harry Sideris, president of Duke Energy Florida. “It resolves the future of the Levy Nuclear Project and reinforces our commitment to building cost-effective solar in Florida. It also makes smart investments that will offer customers more information, choices and control of their energy needs while also providing greater reliability.”
“We applaud Duke Energy Florida for working proactively with stakeholders to embrace smart technologies that are both good for consumers and the environment,” says Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Large-scale solar, electric vehicles and battery storage demonstrate that Duke is embracing technologies for the 21st century. We welcome Duke’s willingness to work with stakeholders on data collection and any rate design changes impacting customer-owned demand-side solar.”
If approved by the PSC, the agreement will take effect in January 2018 and will include investments of nearly $6 billion over the next four years while minimizing the impact on customer bills, according to Duke Energy Florida. Some major components of the revised settlement agreement include the following:
- The addition of 700 MW of solar power facilities over the next four years, accelerating the utility’s previous 10-year solar installation plan.
- The installation of more than 500 EV charging stations, as well as up to 50 MW of energy storage under a pilot battery storage program.
- Expanded customer choices with two new optional billing programs – a Shared Solar program to allow customers to participate in solar generation, and a FixedBill program for residential customers to allow them to pay a fixed amount each month regardless of usage.
- A reduction of $2.50 per 1,000 kWh for residential customers through the removal of unrecovered Levy Nuclear Project costs. Duke Energy Florida says customers will not pay any further costs related to this project, and the company will absorb more than $150 million in costs that would have been recovered through rates.
- Investments to modernize the energy grid to enhance reliability, reduce outages, shorten restoration times and support the growth of renewable energy and emerging technologies.
If the proposed changes are approved, the portion of Duke Energy Florida’s typical residential, commercial and industrial customer bills associated with the settlement would increase approximately 1% to 3% annually in 2019-2021 – about the same as general inflation rates. Typical residential rates are expected to remain at or below the national average, according to the company.
“This settlement agreement shows that we’re listening to our customers and key stakeholders. Our customers have told us they want electricity that is reliable, increasingly clean and more secure. They also want more value and options for their energy needs,” said Sideris. “This settlement delivers on all these customer and stakeholder expectations.”
Duke Energy Florida has requested for the PSC to hold a hearing and expects to have a decision by December.