Surcharge Challenge Over Hurricane Repairs

Florida Power and Light has been adding $209 a month since February to cover what it spent for repairs last summer. The money is subject to refund.

Regulators will decide in July if Florida Progress can begin adding a hurricane surcharge. The two companies are asking for a combined $800 million.

The AARP and the Florida Retail Federation say it is too much.

Andy Miller of the Florida Retail Federation says, "We are very concerned in the overall impact of what the utilities are doing; we think it’s plain simply greedy."

The AARP says that some of the costs being claimed would have been expenses anyway.

Lori Parham, AARP Associate State Director, says, "For example, we would be paying for the regular salaries of employees which the utilities would’ve paid with or without the hurricanes."

They say they need the cash to be ready for the next hurricane, but the two challengers say the request should be cut in half.

The basic argument goes like this: the utilities are in the business of selling you electricity, which they can’t do without poles and lines, so the groups say they should share some of the costs of keeping them up and running.

Gulf Power and Tampa Electric, the other two big investor-owned electric providers in the state, both declined to seek surcharges following last year's quartet of storms.

Sprint has already indicated it will seek money to cover its repair costs last year. Bell South and Verizon will watch closely what happens in the electric cases.