Progress Energy wants to lower at least part of its customers' bills next year. The utility on Monday filed for a reduction in fuel costs that would take effect starting in January. The reduction would cut the fuel portion of the customers' monthly bill by $9.89 for 1,000 kilowatt hours. The average Tampa Bay area customer uses about 1,200 kilowatt hours a month. Progress customers still could see an overall increase in their bills of $3.94 for 1,000 kilowatt hours, because the company requested an increase in the base rate on the electric bills. The utility wants to charge customers an additional $13.83 on the base rate for 1,000 kilowatt hours. Progress makes no profit on the fuel used to generate electricity. It's what's called a "pass through" to customers. Tampa Electric Co. has made a similar request, but its customers would realize a net decrease in their bills of $1.46. The Public Service Commission has scheduled hearings on the Progress' fuel cost reduction request from Nov. 2 to 4.
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960 Blockbuster stores may close
Bowing to cost-cutting pressure from lenders, Blockbuster Inc. said it will close 22 percent of its stores by the end of year, twice the previously announced goal. That amounts to as many as 960 of the shrinking DVD and video game company's 4,356 remaining stores. Blockbuster has been trying to find its entertainment retailing and rental future, while continuing to give up market share to the likes of mail-order Netflix and vending machine operator Redbox.
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McCarty urges rise in insurance rates
Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty says companies offering hurricane coverage may need rate increases due to underwriting losses, although the state hasn't had any serious storms lately. McCarty said Tuesday that there are two alternatives: raise rates or take steps to alleviate factors that are driving costs up. McCarty told Gov. Charlie Crist and Florida Cabinet members, who oversee his office, that some of those cost-drivers are outside the state's control. That includes backup insurance coverage that companies obtain on the global market. McCarty told the panel that 84 companies writing policies in Florida had underwriting gains in the first six months of the year compared to 102 with losses.