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Coal Costs Questioned

April 2nd, 2007 by Mike Vasilinda

The states Public Counsel says Progress Energy customers are due anywhere from 111 million to 143 million dollars in refunds on fuel supplies purchased over the past ten years. Three days of hearings began in Tallahassee this morning and consumer advocates argue that Progress bought expensive coal from companies it controlled, and then shipped it in barges owned by the company instead of using cheaper coal more readily available. Public Counsel Joe McGlothlin says the highest overcharges were in recent years.

2005 only, the difference between the fuel burned and what should have been burned had they been taking advantage of PRV Coal and using the 50/50 blend the units were designed to burn was 29 million dollars. For 2004, standing alone 21 million dollars. For 2003, standing alone 15 million dollars.

Progress Energy disputes the charges, saying the time to question what it paid for coal in previous years has come and gone. Attorney Joe Burnett says the company has done nothing wrong.

SOT: Joe Burnett / Progress Attorney

The evidence in this case will show we made reasonable and prudent decisions that saved customers not cost, saved customers hundreds of millions of dollars from 1996 to 2005.

If a refund of the full amount is ordered, it would be about 84 dollars for each of Progresss 1.7 million customers. It would likely be spread out over the course of a year and come in the form of a credit against a current bill.

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