Utilities customers in the Tampa Bay area received rare good news about their power bill. The Florida Attorney General’s Office and Tampa Electric Company have agreed that the power company will dole out refunds from a controversial rate hike last year.

Tampa Electric has agreed to a one-time refund of $24 million to customers — which is an average of $19 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, according to an Attorney General’s Office press release.

In 2009, the Florida Public Service Commission approved a rate hike for Tampa Electric requested by the company to upgrade and construct new equipment. But the hike set off a legal challenge from the Attorney General’s Office and the Florida Office of Public Counsel, an appeal that contended the equipment should be operational before customers had to pay increased fees.

As a result of the refund agreement, the appeal still pending before the Florida Supreme Court will be dismissed, Attorney General Bill McCollum announced.

This comes during a still tumultuous time for the Public Service Commission, which regulates private utility companies rates and service.

In April, two candidates nominated by Crist to the board, Benjamin “Steve” Stevens and David Klement, failed to be confirmed by the legislature. Many expressed outrage that the failure was linked to the commissioners’ votes against rate hikes sought by Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy.

In the wake of the failed nominations, Crist tapped two nominees who are yet to be confirmed.

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