FPL offers companies rate discounts for creating jobs
By Scott Blake
Florida Power & Light, the state's largest utility company, is getting into the economic development business.
FPL is offering discounted electric rates for businesses that add jobs. The reduced rates can potentially save companies thousands of dollars a year on their electric bills, according to FPL.
In addition, FPL has opened an Office of Economic Development to offer "a suite of professional services" to help new and expanding businesses with strategic planning, site selection, rate options and more.
The programs — designed to attract new businesses and encourage existing businesses to expand — are still in their early stages.
"It takes several months at a minimum to go from application to operation, so it is too early to say how many or which businesses will take advantage of the new economic development rates," says FPL spokeswoman Sarah Marmion.
"Currently, we are working with state and local economic development agencies as well as our current business customers to identify and qualify businesses for the new rates," she says.
In Miami-Dade County alone, the company has about 123,000 commercial and industrial customers. Overall, FPL provides electricity to 4.5 million homes and businesses around Florida.
According to FPL's economic development program rules, new or expanding businesses that add a minimum of 350 kilowatts a month of new electric load and create at least 10 new jobs per 350 kilowatts of added load by June 1, 2013, can apply for the reduced rates.
After that date, businesses wishing to take advantage of the reduced rates will have to create 25 jobs per 350 kilowatts of added electric load.
The discounts would apply to a company's standard base energy and demand charges over four years, providing a 20% discount in the first year; 15% in the second; 10% in the third and 5% in the fourth.
Typically, businesses that use 350 kilowatts of electricity a month include supermarkets, department stores, manufacturing plants, hospitals and hotels. The reduced rates can potentially save a 350-kilowatt-a-month business $9,500 to $12,000 in the first year, the company says.
As an extra incentive to stimulate the use of existing vacant property, businesses adding the required new load and new jobs in commercial or industrial space vacant for more than six months will receive five years of discounts.
Those discounts would begin with 25% in the first year and decline by 5% each year thereafter.
"While FPL's rates are already the lowest in the state and significantly lower than national averages," CEO and President Armando Olivera said in a statement, "theses new incentives are designed to further help Florida businesses grow and help the state attract new businesses, which, in turn, will spur the economy and create jobs for Floridians."
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