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Gulf Power 'Michael Surcharge' Approved

Gulf Power

Your Gulf Power bill will be a bit higher soon, and they say you can blame Hurricane Michael. The Florida Public Service Commission unanimously approved a storm restoration surcharge for all Gulf Power customers beginning with the July bill. "Hurricane Michael was an unprecedented, major category 5 storm that ultimately required an unprecedented storm response" said Natalie Smith, a communications specialist for Gulf Power.

In the days and weeks after Michael hit, 7,500 storm crew personnel from other parts of the country converged on the central Panhandle to get the power back on a quickly as possible. That meant, among other things, housing and feeding those workers for the duration of their stay.

"We replaced 7,000 (power) poles, 200 miles of new distribution line, 4,000 new transformers, and again those 7,500 crew members working around the clock. There (were) no breaks, we had crews working around the clock until we got 99% of our customers, who could safely receive power, restored within 13 days. That takes a lot of money."

Smith says that when Hurricane Michael hit, Gulf Power has about $48 million in their storm reserve fund. Ultimately, it was not nearly enough.

"That only ended up covering about 10 percent of the total cost, so the Florida Public Service Commission did approve the Storm Restoration Surcharge of about $8 per month for a residential customer using about 1,000 kilowatt hours per month."

Smith says 1,000 kilowatt hours is the amount of power a typical residential customer will use each month. Commercial and industrial customers will see an increase between three and eight percent depending upon their rate plan. The surcharge will be in effect for five years.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.