Tampa Electric wants its average residential customer to pay an extra $10.41 a month.
Tonight, the utility's customers get their chance to weigh in on the proposed rate hike during an evening hearing with the five-member Public Service Commission at Hillsborough Community College's Dale Mabry campus.
The state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers before the Public Service Commission, opposes the increase. And AARP plans to speak against the rate hike during the hearing.
"For Florida consumers, specifically seniors living on a fixed income, it's troubling to know that TECO is asking for rates that would increase revenue and give its shareholders returns of 11.25 percent," Kathy Marma, an AARP spokeswoman, said in a statement Tuesday. "The extra costs represent an unfair burden on Florida consumers of all generations, especially older Floridians."
The utility also wants to bump up what its commercial and industrial customers pay by 6 percent. The rate hike is needed to offset rising costs and sluggish growth, the utility said.
At the time Tampa Electric announced the proposed rate increase, the utility stated that it recognized some customers would be hit hard.
"There is never a good time to raise rates, and we empathize with our customers who are also feeling the effects of a difficult economy," said Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric. "The pace of the economic recovery has not been what anyone predicted. We have worked diligently to keep costs low, but costs continue to outpace growth."
The PSC must approve the proposed rate hike, which would increase the average residential customer's bill from $102.58 per 1,000 kilowatt hours of usage a month to about $113.
Today's hearing with the PSC will be held 6 p.m. at the Hillsborough Community College/Dale Mabry Campus Students Services Auditorium, DSTU Building Room 111, 4001 W Tampa Blvd., Tampa.
Ivan Penn can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2332.