The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) today approved Peoples Gas System’s (Peoples) request to track and record COVID-19 related costs. The accounting mechanism allows the utility to defer recovery of costs due to events beyond its control and seek recovery through rates at a later time.
Peoples actual costs incurred and potential offsets will be reviewed by the Commission when the company seeks approval for cost recovery. The PSC approved a similar regulatory asset last month for Gulf Power Company.
“At our recent workshop, we heard from Florida utilities facing similar situations to Peoples. With this unprecedented pandemic, Peoples said its COVID-19 related bad debt expense will continue to increase due to higher levels of write-offs for uncollectible accounts,” said PSC Chairman Gary Clark. “The Commission will make sure these costs are thoroughly tracked and reviewed before any future recovery is authorized.”
Peoples is required to file monthly reports with the PSC on COVID-19 related costs incurred, any cost assistance received, and any cost savings realized. The first COVID-19 expense report is due on October 1, and every month thereafter until Peoples files for cost recovery.
Since the start of COVID-19, Peoples’ uncollected accounts of 60 days or more has exceeded 12 percent of its total accounts receivable, or approximately $2.3 million. Safety-related costs, also included in Peoples’ request for potential future recovery, are associated with its efforts to follow sanctioned guidelines and protocols. These costs include purchasing personal-protective equipment, additional cleaning and sanitation, monitoring the health of employees, and vehicle rental due to necessary social distancing.
Peoples Gas System, Florida’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serves about 370,000 customers across the state. Peoples is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
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