Items add up on power bill
I was looking at my power bill and I now get charged more for things that aren't for power use than for power use. What do these things on my bill mean: Customer charge, fuel charge, gross receipts tax, municipal franchise tax and municipal utility tax?
Since you're a St. Petersburg resident, we asked Rob Sumner, Progress Energy spokesman, for some help. He directed us to a Progress Energy brochure that included these definitions:
"Customer charge is a fixed monthly amount to cover the cost of providing service to your location. This charge is applicable whether or not electricity is used.
"Fuel charge includes the actual cost of fuel used to produce electricity. The company's two largest fuel sources are coal and natural gas. Fuel costs are passed through from fuel suppliers to customers with no profit to the company. This charge is adjusted annually to reflect changes in the cost of fuel.
"Gross receipts tax is collected in accordance with Florida state statutes. This tax is assessed on all electric public utilities and paid directly to the state. Progress Energy Florida does not keep these tax monies.
"Municipal franchise tax is a fee that we collect to compensate communities for using their rights of way. All of the fee is sent back to the local community; Progress Energy Florida does not keep any franchise fees. Fees vary by community.
"Municipal utility tax: In accordance with state law, a county/municipality may levy a tax on the purchase of electricity within that area. This tax is paid directly to your county/municipality. Progress Energy Florida does not keep any of these taxes."
Sumner says these and other definitions, and other information about Progress Energy's rates, can be found at this website: tinyurl.com/csrllul.
Harvests affect grocery bills
Why have the prices of eggs and peanut butter increased dramatically?
Egg prices increased 4.9 percent in August because of the higher cost of corn and other grains used in animal feed, USA Today reported. Also, the inventory of table egg-laying hens in the United States decreased for five of the first seven months of 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cost of eggs is 14.5 percent higher than it was in August 2010.
Peanut butter costs also will increase after one of the worst peanut harvest seasons in years, CNNMoney.com reported. The price for a ton of runner peanuts, which are used to make peanut butter, has jumped to $1,200, an increase of $450 from this time last year, according to the article.
U.S. peanut production is expected to be 3.6 billion pounds this year, down 13 percent from 2010, according to the USDA. Peanut butter prices are expected to increase anywhere from 20 to 40 percent next month, according to CNNMoney.com and the Associated Press.