Power bill spike will be less sharp

Your power bill is still likely to go up, just not as much.

Tampa Electric and Progress Energy backtracked Monday on their proposed 31 percent increases. Instead, Progress Energy plans to raise rates by nearly 25 percent starting in January, and Tampa Electric plans to follow with a 21 percent increase by May.

Both utilities in late August announced dramatic increases to pay for the soaring cost of fuel. Fuel prices have fallen steeply since then, dragged down by the financial crisis and forecasts of weaker demand. The prices of natural gas and oil have fallen more than 40 percent since July.

"This time, fuel prices changed in our favor, which is not always the case," said Jeff Lyash, president and chief executive of Progress Energy, in a statement released Monday.

Both utilities also plan substantial rate increases for other costs. Progress Energy wants customers to pay up front for its $17-billion nuclear project in Levy County, and Tampa Electric wants to raise base rates for the first time since 1992.

"I knew it probably would go up, and hearing that there's a slight backtrack on that is a great thing," said Martin Rice, 40, a Progress Energy customer in St. Petersburg. "But an increase is an increase."

If all of the increases are approved, Progress Energy customers starting in January would pay $137.88 for 1,000 kilowatt hours, $27.29 more than it costs today, but $7.21 less than the original proposal.

Tampa Electric's customers will pay $128.44 for 1,000 kilowatt hours starting in January, rising to $138.68 in May — $24.30 more than it costs today, but $11 cheaper than the utility's original projection. The average customer uses about 1,200 kilowatt hours.

The fuel increases will come up for a vote early next month. Under state law, the utilities are not allowed to profit from fuel costs.

The Florida Public Service Commission will vote today on whether Progress Energy can add the cost of its nuclear power plant to customers' bills. Tampa Electric's base rate hearing will come up early next year.

Asjylyn Loder can be reached at aloder@sptimes.com or (813) 225-3117.

An increase, but smaller

Progress Energy and Tampa Electric backtracked on sharp increases in customer bills to pay for soaring fuel costs, Progress Energy's nuclear project and Tampa Electric's base rate increase.

Progress Energy

Current cost

for 1,000 kwh
Proposed in AugustRevised proposal released Monday
$110.59$144.68$137.88

Tampa Electric

Current cost

for 1,000 kwh
Proposed in AugustRevised proposal released Monday
$114.38$149.49$138.68

*The average customer uses about 1,200 kilowatt hours per month.

Source: Progress Energy and Tampa Electric

Power bill spike will be less sharp 10/13/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 6:56pm]

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