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Tampa Electric to lower its rates in May

Tampa Electric customers will see their electric rates drop 11 percent next month, following changes approved Tuesday by state regulators.

How much individual customers will save depends on how much electricity they use. The utility will charge a higher rate to customers who use more than 1,000 kilowatt hours a month.

For the first 1,000 kilowatt hours, the rate will drop from $128.44 to $114.06 starting in May, more than reversing a January rate increase. The average residential customer uses about 1,200 kilowatt hours a month, although use varies widely.

A customer using 1,250 kilowatt hours a month will pay $145.02, down from $160.94, a decrease of nearly 10 percent.

Other utilities, like Progress Energy and Florida Power & Light, have used tiered rates for years.

The utility said commercial customers will see a decrease in their monthly bills of 5 to 14 percent, and industrial customers will see a drop of 11 to 20 percent.

"We are pleased that our customers will experience lower bills during these difficult economic times," said Chuck Black, president of Tampa Electric.

Electric rates have trailed fuel costs on their wild ride in the last year, first following fuel prices upward and, now, plunging as fuel prices remain low.

On Tuesday, the Public Service Commission permitted Tampa Electric to reverse a fuel rate increase put in place to help the utility recoup unexpectedly high fuel costs from 2008. Under state law, utilities are not allowed to profit from fuel. It's a pass-through to consumers. Fuel rates are adjusted annually, but have swung wildly this year because of volatile fuel markets.

Also on Tuesday, the commission followed up on its March decision to allow Tampa Electric to raise its base rates. Under a decision made last month, Tampa Electric's base rates will likely increase again later this year as the utility brings new generators on line. It's unclear what the rates will be.

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

Tampa Electric to lower its rates in May 04/07/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 10:49pm]
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