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Tampa Electric rates to fall (for now)

TAMPA — Tampa Electric announced Friday plans to slash electric rates by $13 because of falling fuel costs.

The reduction nearly reverses a 12 percent increase that began with January bills. However, the relief may be short-lived if the utility wins another increase slated to hit bills this spring.

Electric rates usually vary from year to year, but rose sharply this year because of last year's soaring fuel costs. In addition to Tampa Electric's recent increase, Progress Energy raised bills a whopping 24 percent to pay for fuel and its $17 billion planned nuclear plant.

The increases have outraged Tampa Bay electric customers, who are struggling with record-high foreclosures, falling property values and soaring unemployment. Both Tampa Electric and Progress Energy have moved quickly in recent weeks to pass along savings that resulted from plummeting fuel prices. Progress Energy announced an 11 percent cut two weeks ago as it lowered fuel rates and its nuclear charge.

Tampa Electric's rates rose from $114.38 per 1,000 kilowatt hours to $128.44 with January bills. The fuel reduction will knock $13 off. However, that could be nearly wiped out by a $10 increase in base rates that, if approved, would hit bills in May.

Utilities are not allowed to profit from fuel, which can be half or more of a customer's bill. It's a pass-through to consumers. Base rates, which are another large segment of bills, includes the company's operations, labor, and maintenance costs as well as its profits.

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

Tampa Electric rates to fall (for now) 02/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 11:53pm]
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