Make us your home page
Instagram

Progress Energy, Tampa Electric bills to jump in January

Just as plunging gas prices promise relief at the pump, cash-strapped consumers in the Tampa Bay area face another energy woe: soaring electric bills.

Rate increases, approved Wednesday, will hit customers just after the December holidays and just in time for the home heating bills that come with Florida's cooler months.

"That's bad," said Wofford Johnson, 75, a Tampa Electric customer and president of Tampa Homeowners, an Association of Neighborhoods, a group that has opposed Tampa Electric's rate increases.

"I think in today's economy it's really tough. There's lots of families out there that are on fixed incomes," Johnson said.

Progress Energy bills will increase 25 percent to pay for the rising cost of fuel and the early stages of its $17-billion nuclear plant. Tampa Electric bills will rise 12 percent to pay for fuel, with an additional increase possible in May.

"This is terrible," said Gulam Dean, 68, a Progress Energy customer in St. Petersburg. "A 25 percent rate increase? It's a crime. People are losing jobs, losing houses and can't afford food."

The Florida Public Service Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved the fuel rate increases. Progress Energy's nuclear plant rate increase was approved in October.

Commissioner Nancy Argenziano, a former state legislator with a reputation as a consumer champion, said state law gives the commission little latitude in approving fuel costs. Utilities are not allowed to profit from fuel. The costs are passed through to consumers. The commission's role is to determine that the utility acted prudently in buying the fuel, she explained.

"Overwhelmingly what I'm hearing from the consumer is, 'I can't pay any more. I just can't,' " Argenziano said. While she worried about the impact on consumers, she said she voted to approve the increases because the law left her little choice.

"When consumers ask why did we allow this, it's because we have to," Argenziano said.

Electric bills may continue to rise. Tampa Electric has asked for a base rate increase to pay for the rising cost of labor and commodities that are driving up the cost of doing business. If approved next year, Tampa Electric bills would increase again in May. Progress Energy has an agreement with the state on base rates, but it expires next year. The utility will need to decide early next year whether to ask for an increase.

Although fuel costs have been falling, they have not been low enough long enough to alter the utilities' long-term fuel cost projections. If fuel costs remain low or fall further, customers could see bills came down in mid 2009 or early 2010.

Suzanne Grant, Progress Energy spokeswoman, said the utility can't control the price of fuel.

"We feel that we've done what we can," Grant said. "We know there's never a good time to raise prices, and we know this is an especially hard time for customers."

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

Approved increases

Progress Energy

Now New rate

Fuel

charge$48.81 $62.90

Total$110.59 $137.87

Tampa Electric

Now New rate

Fuel

Charge$52.41 $64.16

Total$114.38 $128.44

Note: All amounts reflect the monthly price to residential customers for the first 1,000 kilowatt hours. Progress Energy charges more for electric use above 1,000 kilowatt hours. The average customers used about 1,200 kilowatt hours a month.

Source: Progress Energy, Tampa Electric, Florida Public Service Commission

Progress Energy, Tampa Electric bills to jump in January 11/12/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 4:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  2. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  3. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  4. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.
  5. Honda denies covering up dangers of Takata air bags

    Autos

    With just a third of the defective Takata air bag inflators replaced nationwide, the corporate blame game of who will take responsibility — and pay — for the issue has shifted into another gear.

    Honda is denying covering up dangers of Takata air bags. | [Scott McIntyre, New York Times]