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A. The increase in base rates will enable Peoples Gas to continue to deliver safe, resilient, clean natural gas throughout Florida. While we have kept costs low in an effort to avoid customer rate increases for 12 years, a combination of necessary infrastructure investments, increases in the cost of construction, evolving customer expectations, investments in technology, and increased operations requirements now causes us to seek rate relief. We are proud to be able to say that our rates have declined during the past 12 years. In 2019, Peoples Gas reduced its rates by passing benefits created by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to customers. Very few businesses can say that their rates or prices have remained unchanged or even declined over a period of more than a decade.
A. If approved as filed, the base rate increase will vary by customer rate class and would likely take effect near the beginning of 2021. We expect typical residential customers with annual consumption between 100 and 249 therms and billed on the RS-2 rate to see an increase of about $5 on their total monthly bills. We expect typical business customers with annual consumption between 2,000 and 9,999 therms and billed on the GS-1 rate to see an increase of about $36 on their total monthly bills.
A. After deferring its original filing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, on June 8, 2020 Peoples Gas filed a petition with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) requesting a future increase in base rates that would likely take effect near the beginning of 2021. On Feb. 7, 2020, prior to the pandemic and per PSC requirements, Peoples Gas filed its formal notification with the PSC that we will be requesting a future base rate increase. In April, due to the social and economic uncertainty of the impacts of the coronavirus crisis on Florida, we requested a 60-day extension of our filing date to June 8, 2020. The rate adjustment review is normally a six to eight-month regulatory process and, if approved, the base rates associated with this request would likely take effect near the beginning of 2021. The increase in base rates will enable Peoples Gas to continue to deliver safe, resilient, clean – and even with the increases – affordable natural gas throughout Florida.
A. We are keenly focused on the safety of our team members, customers and the general public, and have altered working conditions and procedures to lessen the risk of the spread of the virus. We are continuing our essential work of providing safe, clean and reliable natural gas service to customers across Florida. In partnership with Tampa Electric, we have contributed $1 million to help our communities during these difficult times. This includes an additional $500,000 to our Share programs, administered by the Salvation Army to assist our customers in paying their utility bills, along with an additional $500,000 in contributions to Florida's charities that are assisting the front lines in fighting the virus and helping people recover. Details about resources available to customers in need can be found online at peoplesgas.com/updates.
A. Peoples Gas has been planning for this rate adjustment request since 2019. By statute, the process for regulated utilities to adjust rates takes time and ensures due process. The decision to raise base rates was tied to the costs required to support a safe and resilient natural gas system, and was made in advance of the pandemic. We understand that many customers may be facing unexpected financial hardships due to the pandemic and we are here to help. We will work with customers through this difficult time and we share in the optimism of many economic and public health experts that the economy will be recovering by the time the rates are effective. We have offered and will continue to offer customer assistance programs for residential and business customers and residential and business conservation programs, as well as flexible payment arrangements for residential and business customers.
A. We understand that many customers may be facing unexpected financial hardships due to the pandemic and we are here to help. We will work with customers through this difficult time and we share in the optimism of many economic and public health experts that the economy will be recovering by the time the rates are effective. We are proud to partner with non-profit organizations who provide assistance to those needing a helping hand, including during the pandemic. Should you need assistance, we offer programs to support our residential and business customers as well as flexible payment arrangements for residential and business customers. We also provide opportunities for our customers to qualify for cash-back rebates through our residential and business conservation programs.
A. We recently launched an online energy audit to help our residential customers manage their energy usage and spend. A variety of appliance calculators also are available to help customers pinpoint opportunities for savings at home. If you're thinking of replacing or upgrading appliances or equipment, we offer cash-back rebates for residential and business customers. If you're looking for a way to budget your monthly costs, you may want to enroll in Budget Billing. You'll pay the same amount each month and avoid seasonal highs and lows.
A. Peoples Gas submitted its last request for a base rate adjustment 12 years ago in 2008. Since then, the company has invested significantly in its system, technologies and operations to ensure the safe delivery of clean and resilient natural gas, while keeping rates stable. During this time, everyone at Peoples Gas has taken pride in and has worked hard to provide our customers with a world-class customer experience and we have achieved incredible results. We appreciate our customers' recognition for these efforts.
A. Unlike retail stores, regulated utilities must go through a formal six to eight-month process to change the amount they charge their customers. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) regulates utilities, including ensuring fair and reasonable rates for customers. The PSC has final say on the amount Peoples Gas can charge customers. Several factors are considered, including the company's prudent costs to provide safe and reliable service along with providing a reasonable return on its capital investment.