Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

Tampa Electric rate notice confuses some customers

Exactly how would the proposed Tampa Electric rate increase affect bills?

Don't depend on the utility's recent customer notice about the rate hike to help figure it out.

Tampa Electric, a subsidiary of TECO Energy, sought to inform its customers over the last few weeks about its request for a 10 percent rate increase. It turns out that some of the rates listed in the notice did not match customer bills, and the confusion began.

"I do realize we're not talking apples to apples here," said Sylvia Vega, a Tampa Electric spokeswoman. Vega said she informed the customer service call center about the differences in the bill and notice about the changes, in case customers called.

Tampa resident Mitch Thrower contacted the call center and came away all the more baffled.

"I called and they said what they're publishing in the notice isn't correct," Thrower said.

The notice does not give the full picture. It only gives the base rate and the proposed increase in the base rate. It excludes other fees, including fuel charges, conservation, environmental and capacity costs.

Here's what to look for on your bill and how to reconcile it with the notice to customers:

The residential energy charge listed on Tampa Electric bills is 5.583 cents per kilowatt hour. The amount listed in the notice of the proposed rate increase is 5.078 cents per kilowatt hour, which on the surface looks like a decrease.

But the 5.078 number does not include conservation, environmental and capacity costs, which are still being worked out. Once those costs are added in, the cost per kilowatt hour will be higher than 5.583 cents.

The proposed rate increase would raise the average residential bill by $11 a month per 1,000 kilowatt hours of usage. That would raise the average monthly bill to about $113 for 1,000 kilowatt hours. The rate had fallen from $106.90 per month in 2012 to $102.58 this year.

Vega said the information in the notice is correct, but it's just not "the whole story."

Ivan Penn can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2332.

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