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Florida regulators approve Tampa Electrics recovery of storm costs

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(The Center Square) — The Florida Public Service Commission approved the request this week by Tampa Electric Co. to recover nearly $135 million in repair costs from tropical storms from 2018 to 2022.

The PSC ordered that any under-recovery or over-recovery be recovered or refunded through adjustments to the energy conservation cost recovery clause.

Tampa Electric Co. serves over 810,000 customers in Hillsborough County, and portions of Polk, Pasco and Pinellas counties. The petition for cost recovery covered Tropical Storm Alberto in 2018, Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Tropical Storm Nestor in 2019, Tropical Storm Eta in 2020, Hurricane Elsa in 2021, and hurricanes Ian and Nicole in 2022.

In the company’s prehearing filing, the purpose of the hearing was to determine actual recoverable costs, which was estimated by the company to come to around $134.8 million.

The document further notes that Tampa Electric agreed to follow certain processes for incurring storm recovery costs, including using an independent accountant to perform an audit.

The Office of Public Counsel reviewed the company’s audit plan, audit report and audit workpapers and determined that the company complied with all requirements. The OPC also noted that Tampa Electric has demonstrated good stewardship over resources used to restore service after a major storm event.

During the hearing, Malcolm Means from the Ausley Law Firm representing Tampa Electric, stated that the company’s goal is to always restore service safely, quickly and efficiently. Means added that the last time the company requested recovery of storm restoration costs was in 2019. In this agreement, future process improvements were set in motion.

“I’m happy to report that these process improvements worked,” Means said. “As a part of this proceeding, Tampa Electric engaged with an outside accounting firm to examine the company’s Hurricane Ian cost. In addition to this outside examination, your staff also conducted an audit of the company’s storm costs, and the Office of Public Counsel conducted discovery.”

Means noted that the parties agree that those processes worked as intended and that Tampa Electric has agreed to follow additional process improvements for future storms.

“Based on the record in this proceeding in the parties stipulations in this matter, we urge you to approve the company’s reasonable and prudent actual storm restoration costs,” Means said.