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Progress Energy bill break may shrink

Within days of lowering its rates because of falling fuel costs, Progress Energy has asked state regulators to raise its base rates this summer.

The utility wants to raise rates $4.88 a month for 1,000 kilowatt hours starting in July, and another $9.38 starting in January. The average customers uses 1,200 kilowatt hours.

"Raising rates is something we never like to do," said Jeff Lyash, president and chief executive of Progress Energy Florida. "We understand it is difficult for our customers."

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said he felt duped.

"I'm extremely disappointed with Progress Energy," he said. "They know the last thing that homeowners and business owners can afford is any type of a rate increase."

Electric rates have been volatile in the last year because of the rapid runup in fuel costs through most of 2008. Customers of both Tampa Electric and Florida Power & Light have seen their rates seesaw.

Progress Energy's rates decreased in early 2008, rose in August, then rose another 24 percent in January to pay for both fuel costs and the early stages of its $17 billion nuclear project in Levy County. Outraged customers flooded state legislators with complaints, and Fasano and others publicly called for Progress Energy to lower bills.

On Tuesday, the St. Petersburg utility won approval from the Public Service Commission to lower rates by 11 percent, or about $15 a month for 1,000 kilowatt hours. The utility lowered its charges for both fuel and its nuclear project.

Just how high rates will go in 2010 remains unclear, since the utility won't have estimates for its nuclear charge until May, and its fuel charge until September.

Fasano said he planned to reach out to constituents and consumer groups to fight the proposed increase.

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

Progress Energy rates

The rate changes are per 1,000 kilowatt hours. The average customer uses 1,200 kilowatt hours a month.

Jan. 2007 $110.34
Jan. 2008 $108.11
Aug. 2008 $110.59
Jan. 2009 $137.87
April 2009 $122.79
July 2009 $127.67
Jan. 2010 Base rate increase of $9.38 per month*

* The overall rate is not clear because the 2010 nuclear charge will not be available until this May, and fuel estimates will not be available until September.

Source: Progress Energy

Progress Energy bill break may shrink 03/20/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 23, 2009 9:41am]
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