Duke Energy seeks approval for waiving fees

In another example of the unprecedented nature of the novel coronavirus, Duke Energy Florida on Thursday asked state regulators to allow it to waive customer fees --- similar to the way it can waive fees for customers who suffer hurricane damage.

The Florida Public Service Commission regulates what utilities can charge customers through a system of what are known as “tariffs.” Duke is allowed to charge extra fees for such thing as reconnecting service and late payments.

Currently, it can waive some charges if customers suffer damage from natural disasters. But the request Thursday would seek to make clear that the utility can waive fees in circumstances such as the coronavirus outbreak and would expand the types of fees that could be waived.

“DEF (Duke Energy Florida) currently has the ability to waive certain service charges in emergency conditions for natural disasters, but that language does not specifically address the type of state of emergency we are in today and does not apply to the imposition of other fees such as late payment charges or return check charges,” the filing said.

The utility, which has about 1.8 million customers in the state, pointed to difficulties that some customers are expected to have in making electric payments, “given the requirements to self-quarantine and other restrictions in place that will impact significant sectors of the workforce.”

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.