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Electric bills may drop $4

Tampa Electric customers can expect a drop in their power rates in the new year.

The average customer, who uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours a month, would see a reduction of about $4 a month, a result of declining fuel prices, especially the price of natural gas. That would lower the average bill from about $106.90 currently to $102.58 each month next year.

The rate reduction would bring Tampa Electric further below the national average, which, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, stood at $119 a month in May.

"This is good news for the citizens of Florida, especially with the lingering effects of the recession," said J. R. Kelly, the state public counsel who represents consumers before the state Public Service Commission. "We're always happy when we're going to see customer rates come down."

The PSC still must approve the rate reductions, which would take effect Jan. 1.

Tampa Electric, owned by TECO Energy, attributed its rate reduction to the decline in natural gas prices. The discovery of a huge supply of natural gas in the United States has led to substantial decreases in prices.

Some federal projections have natural gas prices remaining low for at least the next 10 years.

"In these challenging economic times, we are pleased to continue to maintain low, stable bills while providing outstanding value to our customers," said Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric.

In other parts of the Tampa Bay area, Progress Energy Florida customers will also probably see a decrease.

If it's approved, the average bill for Progress Energy Florida's 1.6 million customers would drop from the current $123.19 to about $115.75 a month, a $7.44 drop.

It's a larger drop than Tampa Electric's in part because of a $129 million refund to customers in 2013 as part of a settlement agreement related to the broken Crystal River nuclear plant in Citrus County. Through 2016, Progress, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Duke Energy, will refund customers a total of $288 million as a result of the agreement.

Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2332.

Electric bills may drop $4 08/31/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 31, 2012 11:53pm]
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