South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 10, 2005 · 62
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South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida · 62

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, November 10, 2005
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D Thursday, November 10, 2005 NWS BUSINESS SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINl Higher fuel surcharge draws fire FPL CONTINUED FROM PAGE ID the current $91.62. Homes using more than 1,000 kilowatt-hours will pay more. Each year, FPL passes along to customers the costs of natural gas and fuel oil used to fire electric generating plants. The company, which says it earns no profits on the fuel surcharge, expects its fuel bill for 2005 and 2006 to total about $9.8 billion. Consumers were outraged. "They have no right to raise rates. Why do our legislators let them do that?" said Sally Mitchell, 71, who lives in Tam-arac. "They're making huge profits and their officers are getting these fantastic salaries. What will it take for Americans to rise up and say, 'We're not going to take it'?" said the retiree, who pays about $100 a month for electricity in her one-bedroom apartment. Owners of small businesses were also angry at news of the increase. "That's too much," said Asad Ali, owner of the Jerusalem Food Market on Military Trail in West Palm Beach. "I'm going to start using my own generator." Ali, who now pays more than $600 a month for electricity, could see his bills rise by about $ 180 or more monthly with a 30 percent surcharge. That's too much. I'm going to start using my own generator." Asad Ali OWNEROFTHE IERUSALEM FOOD MARKET, WEST PALM BEACH FPL customers began paying a fuel surcharge in January of this year that covered projected fuel costs for 2005 and fuel costs that were underestimated at the end of 2004. These costs, which rose dramatically over the past year, now make up the largest share of each customer's bill. Customers also are paying a surcharge to cover the costs of FPL's hurricane repairs in 2004. Starting in January, residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours monthly will pay $58.41 in fuel costs for a $108.61 bill. Base rates, orfees for electricity use, will be $38.12 and other charges $ 12.08. Currently, fuel makes up $40.09 for a monthly bill of $9 1 .62 ; base rates account for $40.22 and other charges $1 1.31. Other charges include taxes, a franchise fee, customer fee and additional items. Members of the commission approved a higher surcharge than the 16 percent increase proposed by FPL "to send a signal" to the market about the actual costs of electricity and to avoid spreading out fuel costs over too much time. The PSC decision revolved around how to allow FPL to recover more than $972 million in fuel costs that the company had underestimated in 2005. FPL proposed splitting the total into two parts, charging customers about $486 million in 2006 and the same amount in 2007. If this plan had been adopted, the residential rate increase in January 2006 would have been 16 percent and increases for business and industry would have ranged from 2 1 percent to 37 percent. But commissioners, following their staff's recommendation, decided to adopt a plan in which consumers would pay a larger share in 2006 and a smaller portion in 2007. McLean said the issue was "difficult" for him, since his mandate is to make prices as low as possible for consumers. But he recognized the commission's reluctance to spread fuel charges over too long a period. During discussions of the $25 million sleeving project at the St. Lucie nuclear facility, the newest commissioner, Isi-lio Arriga, sharply criticized McLean's office, complaining that its staff did not sufficiently argue the case against FPL McLean defended his staff and took issue with the commissioner, who was appointed by Gov. Bush last month. "I hope this pathetic naivete by the newest commissioner will wear off quickly," McLean said in an interview. He said FPL has to prove its case, something it did not achieve. Seaports, farmers sustain heavy damage; WILMA CONTINUED FROM PAGE ID League said. Also hard hit statewide in agriculture, according to early assessments: Nurseries, with an estimated $454 million in crop loss and $100 million in structural damages. Citrus, with $180 million in losses or about 17 percent of the crop. Tropical fruit, with a $12 million hit, to name only a few farm-related businesses. In manufacturing, the South Florida Manufacturers Association reported that about 20 percent of its 120 manufacturing company members reported some roof or structural damage. Most also suffered some loss of workdays because of electricity outages, said Brian Neff, the group's vice president "No other singular event has managed to shut down manufacturing across our entire South Florida region as completely in recent years as Hurricane Wilma," the group said on its Web site, blaming the shutdowns largely on electricity problems. Among manufacturing companies hardest hit: Innovative Surveillance Technology (1ST) of Coral Springs, which had one building condemned but consolidated operations in another. KSM Electronics of Fort Lauderdale, which suffered major roof damage but continued operations at plants at other U.S. locations, the association said. The damage reports come as Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, this week estimated insured losses from Wilma statewide at $9 billion. -.V ,1 Business writers Kathy BushouseandMarcia Heroux Pounds contributed tothisreport v VVAINI 1 IICAlE IMSTAMTLY, y , y - . J NEXTEL r L 0 r,Z'.i THZ'.TJ nWCniTE COLOR! rius cjy c::z, en one free V I If V: r t m CIST '. . t .1 KER - RUGGED fA "ir .. GET THE RIGHT GIFT. AFTER $25 SPRINT MAIL-IN REBATE2 'y ,. M LiCtlioShacI:.

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