FPL, Passing on the Savings
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- Jan 7, 2020 3:00 am GMT
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Florida Power & Light (FPL) customers can keep a few dollars in their pockets this year. Starting this month, customers’ bills will go down by $4 a month. While that may not be very much, it adds up. More importantly, it builds strong utility-customer relationships. FPL’s clean energy investments, operational efficiencies and lower natural gas prices are each responsible for the customer savings. But the utility’s president and executive office, Eric Silagy, continues to focus on long-term solutions to maintain resiliency while the area endures extreme weather and hurricane season year after year. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma wiped out power to 95 percent of the area and a lengthy 2-week restoration period resulted in an increase cost to some already financially impacted by the disaster. Learning from the past, 2017’s Hurricane Irma was met with FPL’s rapid response team, underground power lines and pole sensors that led to a faster, more cost-effective restoration period. Last year, Hurricane Dorian cost the utility $270 million in restoration efforts that would typically be recouped via a temporary surcharge on customers’ bills. Despite the costs of repair and restoration, customers will not be required to cover those expenses. FPL said that because the company’s overall costs have fallen, that estimated $50 surcharge won’t be added.
Passing on savings to customers builds trust and brand loyalty. However, FPL’s innovative ideas were not always the most popular among consumers. Twenty years ago the utility decided to modernize their power plants, tearing down aging oil-fired plants to replace with more efficient plants. Many argued this was an expensive, unnecessary endeavor but FPL eliminated 130 million tons of carbon dioxide while saving customers $10 billion in fuel costs. Pushing ahead, the utility is investing billions in clean energy, taking the lead in solar and 'hardening' the power system. While these changes will take time, in some cases a decade or more, FPL seems convinced that slow and steady wins the race. Some are urging Florida Municipal Power members to adopt Florida Power & Light’s dedication by creating new value for their customers instead of increasing rates. FPL is advancing customer relations through programs and research which are helping to create the electric grid of the future. How? By ignoring the ‘quick fix’ and pursing the sometimes unpopular, long-term goals. What are your utilities' long-terms goals for customer care and savings?