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Duke Energy Florida Arm Plans to Slash Electric Rates for 2021

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Duke Energy Corp’s (DUK - Free Report) subsidiary, Duke Energy Florida, recently announced its plans to bring down Florida’s residential rates by 2.8% for 2021. It will further make additional grid improvements to enhance reliability, security and resilience in 2021 and beyond.

Such grid-reliability improvements are expected to lower Duke Energy Florida’s annual capacity, energy conservation, storm protection plan and environmental compliance clause costs.

Customers to Benefit from Rate Reduction

Utility companies are mostly regulated and require systematic investments for infrastructural investments. A well maintained and upgraded infrastructure enables these companies to provide reliable services to the customer bases. The utilities recoup the invested amount through rate revisions approved by the commissions. Notably, usage of cheaper fuel, and introduction of new technology in generation and distribution systems aid the utilities to reduce rates.

On approval of the aforementioned rate reduction, a residential customer of Duke Energy Florida, using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh), will see a decrease of $3.63 in the monthly bill beginning January 2021. Additionally, commercial and industrial customers will witness bill impacts ranging from a 6.6% decrease to a 1.1% increase.

Further, Duke Energy Florida has made commitments to help customers struggling financially due to the pandemic, by providing enhanced customer care services and expanded assistance.

Alongside Duke Energy Florida, subsidiaries of other major utility companies, such as NextEra Energy’s (NEE - Free Report) Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and Ameren Corporation's (AEE - Free Report) subsidiary, Ameren Missouri have announced their plans of reducing electric rates for residential, commercial and industrial customers in 2021.

This March, unit FPL sought approval from the Florida Public Service Commission to lower electricity rates from May 1. FPL’s plan was to make a one-time decrease of around 25% for the typical residential customer bill (using 1,000-kWh on average). In the same month, Ameren Missouri also announced that the Missouri Public Service Commission has given the green light to the new lower electric rates for residential, commercial and industrial customers effective from April. This approval has reduced monthly bills for the typical residential customer by $1.25 per month.

Duke Energy’s Long-Term Plans

We applaud Duke Energy’s long-standing efforts to expand its scale of operations and implement modern technologies at the utility’s facilities, by investing heavily in infrastructure and expansion projects. The company has a robust five-year capital plan and currently intends to invest $42.7 billion in its overall growth projects during the 2020-2024 time period. This investment plan will bolster earnings base growth in the company’s combined electric and gas businesses by approximately 12%, over the next five years. The company further expects investments to help it achieve an earnings growth rate of 4-6% through 2024.

Price Movement & Zacks Rank

Duke Energy carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

In the year-to-date period, Duke Energy’s shares have lost 11.2% compared with the industry’s 14.3% decline.

A Key Pick

A better-ranked stock from the same space is Energias de Portugal (EDPFY - Free Report) , currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Energias de Portugal’s long-term earnings growth rate currently stands at 5.7%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2020 earnings has moved 8.6% north to $2.92 in the past 90 days.

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